Miriam, the daughter of Timon and Ruth, was the fifth of eight children who lived. She, unlike her brothers and sisters, seemed to always be right. â€śRightâ€ť in many senses of the word. Unlike other children, she never became ill. Never a fever. Never an ache. Never a pain. Her health was â€śright.â€ť Like her health, her temperament was â€śright.â€ť She was slow to anger. Quick to forgive. She was never inflamed by passions of any sort. She was â€śrightâ€ť in her thinking. She always seemed to do the right thing. Not just the proper thing. She saw choices before her and took choices that were thoughtful, contemplative, just and appropriate in all cases.
Miriam was also radiant. Her physical beauty was a marvel to all. All the women of Alexandria were secretly, or sometimes openly, jealous of her. Egyptians saw her flawless complexion and wondered how so fair a Jew could survive the sun. She was as luminescent as a mortal could be.
In all these and so many other ways she was unlike her parents. Her mother was a paunchy woman who tended house and nagged her sons and husband. Timon, her father, was a prosperous spice merchant and upstanding member of the community of Jews in the great Egyptian city. He was, also a quarreler. He was a man of strong opinions and a loud voice with which to make you aware of his opinions. Miriamâ€™s siblings took after her mother or father. But she was unlike all of them. She glided through life. Her serenity touched everyone in her presence and made them, for a time, a better version of themselves.
One day, her father was loudly complaining about taxes imposed on his business by local agents of Caesar Augustus. Taxes he had to pay above and beyond the bribes he already paid to make business go smoothly. Miriam entered the room and saw her fatherâ€™s agitated state. She said she would get him some cool water to calm him. She left and went to the garden well.
As she stood in the garden at the well she saw a man clothed in brilliant white robes. She wondered, for an instant, how this man came to be in the garden within the house. He looked at her with eyes that burned in righteousness and power. She was struck with fear at his sight.
â€śHail, full of grace. The Lord is with you Miriam.â€ť Upon hearing his voice Miriam realized it was no man at all. This was an angel of God.
â€śHail, full of grace. The Lord is with you,â€ť the angel spoke again. â€śDo not be afraid, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever and of his Kingdom there will be no end.â€ť
But Miriam said to the angel â€śHow can this be, since I have no relations with a man?â€ť
The angel said to her in reply, â€śThe Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.â€ť
Miriam sat quietly and pondered these things the angel had said in her heart.
Then Miriam said to the angel, â€śMay it be done according to your word, but to another. I am filled with fear and unworthiness of this calling. May this cup pass from me.â€ť
The angel said, â€śThis has happened before, and it shall happen again. One will freely choose.â€ť
Miriam started to cry. She choked out, â€śHave I done wrong? Have I displeased the Lord.â€ť
The angel smiled and said, â€śNo child. You have answered according to your heart and will. The Lord created you thus. Go in peace.â€ť
Miriam turned and carried the water to her father.