It’s the feast of the Annunciation, when Gabriel visited Mary and told her about Jesus.
Quite a few years ago, I wondered what it felt like to be on the receiving end of such a message, and I got an answer.
At the time, I was in graduate school. For years, I’d wanted to join the volunteer community at Covenant House, working for a year with homeless kids, living on-site with other volunteer workers who all got $15 a week and spent three hours a day in prayer. (I’m told that it starts off feeling like a lot and by the end it feels like barely enough.) It’s tough but rewarding work. I’d wanted to do it after college, but I was too young by one year.
But I also wasn’t sure if I should bag the Covenant House faith community idea and get married to my Patient Boyfriend. It’s a long story there, but I had Issues (heck, I had the whole subscription) and I was worried about spending another year apart. We were already long-distance.
I went to visit my Patient Boyfriend in Ithaca. At one point, we were cuddling, and that question popped into my head: I wonder what Mary felt when Gabriel appeared to announce Jesus’s coming.
In the next moment, I felt overcome by Presence. I can’t explain it, but in my heart, I knew:
I would not go to Covenant House.
I would get married to my Patient Boyfriend.
We would have a baby, and it would be a Good Baby. The world would be a better place because of this Good Baby.
In the next moment, I found myself overflowing with tears. I couldn’t have stopped myself: they just started, and I was just transfixed by the Goodness of this Good Baby.
Of course, my Patient Boyfriend was horrified thinking he’d upset me somehow, and I couldn’t get the words out, what had happened, what I’d felt.
Two hours later, after dinner, he proposed.
I did not go to Covenant House. I married my Patient Boyfriend.
I have had five babies, and I still don’t know which was the Good Baby, whether I’ve had the Good Baby or whether the Good Baby is yet to come, whether Emily Rose was the Good Baby who made the world a better place, or whether even the enemy doesn’t know which of my babies is the Good one and that’s why I get into a car crash whenever I’m pregnant (as Satan goes all Herod on me trying to get the baby.)
I don’t know, and maybe I never will. But I’ve always remembered that power, that moment, the answers, and the raw Goodness of a Good Baby.