What happened next? Elizabeth
Luke’s gospel is a tale of people. People and Jesus. Some of them may come from the spirit-led imagination of Luke but many of them met Jesus or were influenced by him. It is tantalising to wonder whatever happened to these people as they are left behind in the unfolding story of Jesus.
What effect did he have on them? Whatever happened to them? Sometimes the gospel offers hints; but often they simply disappear from view. John Rackley invites us to share a journey of faithful imagination and ask what we may learn for our own trust in Jesus from these brief encounters.
Elizabeth, the mother of John who became known as the Baptist
She had spread the washing on the rocks to dry. The wind was getting stronger. She had placed stones from the stream on the clothes to hold them down. The other women still kept her at a distance. It was time for a brief rest. Shading her eyes she looked up across the valley to see if he was in sight.
People used to tell her he was God’s blessing. She would smile but kept her thoughts to herself. Zechariah insisted they call him, John. She did not argue... much; but she would have chosen Aaron. He was always wandering to edge of the wilderness. He spent more time there than their house. It was as if it were his home. He had his ancestor’s blood in him.
She worried. She couldn’t relax until she heard him calling her name from the hillside.
Why did the Lord give me this child?
Her mother would have said it was something I ate.
The rabbi thought it was the devotion of my husband;
he never had much time for women.
Zechariah was clear –
we should not question the ways of the Lord;
we are called to follow in his way.
So I did.
But John has been restless
from those very first movements within me.
Now he’s unstoppable.
Mary and I used to talk about the future of our children.
She was surer than me.
Jesus; he has a future.
What about my John?
Zechariah saw it all laid out in the scriptures.
He gave a great oration when he was shown to the people.
I remained silent.
We don’t see much of them now.
When we do, the boys seem to get on well.
But John always comes away, over-excited
and when we get home
he can’t wait to run out to the ridge and
look across to the other side of Jordan.
Lord, if he really is a child of the desert,
keep him safe, I pray.
He has never felt mine.
Only a strange blessing.
I cannot question your ways.
I have been blessed by your unexpected mercy.
This you have shown me:
when you bless us it becomes a gift
for the good of all your people.
Picture: Mariotto Albertinelli's imagining of Elizabeth (right), here pictured with Mary / Wikimedia Commons
John writes about this meditation and adds some suggestions for further reflection and prayer in his blog www.windingquest.wordpress.com