Mary's Place

Still lights twinkling in the valley plain and in the deepening vault above. Sweet Jasmine fragrances. The urgency of parental concern flitted about her consciousness tugging at her thoughts, at her compulsive want to stay in this place. “Oh God,” her heart exclaimed, “Let me live here forever.” She did not expect an answer, but one came. “Mary.”

The man simply appeared. He had not approached by foot. She had heard no one coming and surely she would have. He appeared there as if he had preceded her, waiting for her. But she had not seen him, or heard him. She was afraid. She wanted to flee but her legs would not move. He made no attempt to touch her, he just stood there, looking at her as if -- as if it were she and not he, who had suddenly and mysteriously appeared, as if it were she who were the apparition to be feared, as if she, not he, were the subject of awe. What beautiful eyes; Mary thought without fear. He spoke, “Be comforted, child.”

He appeared to be about ten years her senior. Not a man of ancient years, although he was. Not a man of maturity and command, although he was that, too. He bore no semblance of opulence, no airs, no attitude of superiority. He was simply a man, unspectacular, unassuming.

Intuitively, Mary knew this was no ordinary man. “God has chosen you above all women, Mary,” he said quietly. He waited as the soft sound of the brook splashed and rippled. It was an appropriate sound, making itself heard with poignant moment. “In this you are highly honored. You are favored as no other.” The magnitude of this simple declaration did not register for the child.

“I - I do not understand,” she stammered. “Who are you?” Even more important, her heart inquired, What are you? Unanswering, his eyes danced with the twilight. He smiled. Whatever anxiety may have stalked her retreated, replaced with expectancy. Why have you come?

A question of thought, reluctant to make its way to her tongue. Sensing her expectancy he said, “I have splendid news for you, child.” He spoke to her as a father, yet he was not. He waited. He wanted her to hunger, to seek, to demand what he had to say. It did not take long. In the pressing necessity of her heart, she begged, peremptorily: Please!

He had thought of a thousand ways in which what he had to say could be said. He wanted to announce it to the sound of trumpets and the race of stars across the


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