It strikes me that so many of my recent posts have been of ostensibly happy news hiding a sad future (I’m thinking specifically of the birth of Mary Seymour…) – while this is ostensibly sad news hiding a Glorious future. (See what I did there? 😉)
Indeed, the birth of a daughter instead of a son was devastating to Henry and to Anne. Henry had put aside his wife of twenty years, a queen that his people adored; he had broken with Rome and established an entirely new religion – all to secure a legitimate son and heir…and along comes a daughter. Today we have psychologists helping us to recognize and overcome the very common distress of feeling ourselves “not enough” – but Elizabeth had no such support. I cannot even begin to imagine the deep wound she would have suffered in learning about her mother’s end, an end brought about because she was not a boy.
Now, it’s not like Henry’s other children didn’t have their own issues – Mary was abandoned by the father she adored, and Edward’s birth literally killed his mother. But Mary had her memories and her mother’s example to support her, and Edward had the image of the phoenix to comfort him…poor Elizabeth was left with only shame over false and terrible accusations.
And yet it all worked out in the end: Elizabeth reigned as England’s Gloriana and the country prospered for more than forty years. There is a practice in Judaism that when something happens to a person, happy or sad, they must acknowledge God as the “true Judge” – specifically to underscore the fact that we humans are in no position to assess whether things are truly good or truly bad. Today’s birth of a daughter instead of a son is the perfect example of that.
Blessed is the true Judge.
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