Mary's Place

Nazareth did not fit. An independent-minded community, considered with some scorn by stricter Jews, Nazareth annoyed the religious climate. Residents took perverse pride in being different. This irritated the religious leadership as far away as Jerusalem. Nazareth was a creature to itself, a rogue community. It lay outside the mainstream of Israelite life. Except for several trade routes that ran near the town, it stood to itself, alone and outcast. Located midway between the Sea of Galilee and Mt. Carmel and just south of both, the village lay along the slopes of the lower hills of the Lebanon range quietly overlooking a spreading plain.

A short walk from Nazareth, a clear, cold spring seeped through a precipitous embankment and formed a small pool. Surrounded by trees that gave shade; moss, fern and lilies flourished. Here, morning wetness and gentle mists greet awakening dawn. Here, dew mantles the meadow with glistening drops of crystal. Here, sunlight dances in innumerable droplets of condensation. In evening hours, familiar, unbroken sounds of small creatures announce the creeping softness of approaching silence. Here, in the afternoons, she came.

This was Mary’s place; a solitary place where she came when she felt the need for

quiet meditation, for closeness with God.

Here in late afternoon, she smiled at bright butterflies bouncing in puffs of gentle summer zephyrs. A small beauty with blue streaks in butter-yellow wings lit upon her hand as if stopping to gossip. Captivated, she watched as it sat between her thumb and forefinger, slowly moving its wings to some silent rhythm. Nature often accommodates the delight of those who hold her in awe. Mary wondered at the bees buzzing above the blossoms, legs heavy with pollen. She spread herself on the grass gazing at giant white cumulus explosions in the sky, thinking about how it would be to soar among them like the eagle, imagining their shapes with people that were familiar to her. “That one looks like old Uncle Elimelech,” she laughed. And here, in early morning or evening vesper hours she came to pray; this place, hidden in the hills, her private sanctuary.

Evening airs still and cool. She stood where the slopes fell sharply to the Plain of Esrdraelon, watching lights below reflect in the deepening panoply above, the light of day fleeing to the place opposing from whence it will come in the morning. Waters from the spring gurgle into a pool so clear it seems invisible, trickling down lush slopes, forming part of a watershed quenching the thirsts of caravans on Roman roads below.


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