Jean had spent the afternoon at church putting away the Christmas crib and the last of the Christmas decorations. In their church, Christmas ended with Candlemass.
Then she had spent the evening minding her grandson Joe while her daughter and son-in-law went out without the baby for the first time. There was a precious moment when Joe slept in her arms and she looked at the little bundle with love and joy.
“I wonder who you are,” she said to the sleeping child, “and what kind of person you will grow up to be.” Then her mind turned to the plaster baby Jesus she had carefully wrapped in tissue paper a few hours before and put away in its box on the vestry shelf. “I wonder what Mary must have thought as she held him and imagined what kind of person he would be. Did she really understand about him being God’s own Son?” And she thought about the plaster figure of Mary with her lovely, kind face.
It wasn’t long before Becky and Geoff got back, sooner than Jean expected, but they hadn’t wanted to leave their precious baby for too long. Jean refused the offer of a lift – it wasn’t far, and the night was clear and bright. Walking gave her time to think.
She went through the open park area round by the stream, a place where people cycled and jogged in the day time and children played on the swings. Someone was sitting on one of the benches, a woman who looked vaguely familiar, even in the darkness.
Jean called hello.
“How is the little man?” the woman replied.
“Quite beautiful”, said the doting grandmother. “I was just wondering what he would grow up to be.”
“I used to do that,” said the woman. “And when he grew up my son was just what I imagined in some ways, and in other respects he was completely different. He was good and kind and considerate, just as I had taught him. But then when he started preaching and teaching, he became bigger somehow, as if he had come from a large landscape. I tried to pull him back, once, but then I had to realise he was no longer just my son.”
Then Jean realised why the woman on the bench was so familiar. She had the lovely, kind face that had captivated her earlier in the day. And who her Son was.
“Jesus!” she exclaimed. “God’s Son!”
“Exactly,” said the woman on the bench. “That’s who he was when he lived on earth. When he was young, people looked at him and saw me. Then when he was older, especially when he died on the cross and rose again, people looked at him and saw God. And they were right. If you want to know what God is like, you look at him. Tells you everything.”
“The image of the invisible God,” Jean said.
“Yes,” said the woman on the bench, “Christ the anointed one, but that is only part of who he was, who he is.”
Just then, another woman came along the path. She was wearing a long skirt that fluttered in the breeze, and a scarf over her head and shoulders. She was skipping, almost dancing. As she came nearer, Jean could hear a tune, a deep humming.
“Is it not beautiful?” said the dancing woman, though it was more a song than a statement.
“Glorious!” replied the woman on the bench. “Always was, always is now, and always shall be.”
Jean watched the dancing woman as she circled the trees and pointed to the stars.
“Who is she?” Jean asked, “and what is so beautiful?”
The woman on the bench replied, “She is Wisdom, God’s wisdom. She helped make the world, and she rejoices in all of creation, and she helps all creation to live harmoniously and be creative, and she helps in the continuing work of re-creation.”
“That sounds so serious,” Jean said, “but she was having such fun!”
“In some ways,” said the woman on the bench, “she is an idea, but on a night like this, ideas come alive and we can see them.”
Then the dancing woman’s song was joined by another note, a deep roar.
The woman on the bench lapped her hands, “I love to hear that!” she said. “His voice, his creative Word!”
The other woman’s dance became ever more intricate at this point, and Jean noticed subtle changes in the landscape, as if all the growing things responded and became fuller, more complete. The moon came out from behind a cloud, and the little park just glowed.
“Oh!” said Jean, “It is beautiful. It really is!”
“That’s who he was before he came to me,” said the woman on the bench. “The Word. When I come to watch, it helps me understand who he was way back at the beginning of time and who he will always be. It helps me connect with him.”
Jean took a deep breath. “He is more and bigger than I ever imagined,” she said.
“Yes. And that is only the start,” said the woman on the bench.
“I am full of wonder!” Jean exclaimed. “But I can’t help wondering what this means for me and Becky and Geoff and baby Joe and everyone at church. I love going to church and receiving Communion. And I help out where I can. I gave God a nice little niche in my life. But all of a sudden, it is so much more!”
The woman on the bench looked up at Jean, “You will probably find that it begins to sink deeper into your life now,” she said. “You will find Wisdom’s song resonates within you. You will find yourself skipping with her dance. You will notice more around you and it will delight you, so you give praise to God.”
Something in Jean responded to the woman’s words. “Oh Yes!” she said.
“You are a witness now, Jean,” said the woman on the bench. “Share your delight and praise. Don’t hold it in. Let it shine out. Joe will get it because you have it. Help him to see. And it will make a difference to the people around you, because you have seen this. It is for them too.”
Jean noticed that a great joy was welling up inside.
“He dwells in you too,” the woman continued. “Give him room to work through you.”
Jean was never quite sure how she made it through the park back to her own comfortable chair. Something in her had shifted and she was full of hope.