Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22602 – 916
Here’s the haps:
In 2007 I originally wrote a series of 4 posts about how I imagined Joseph may have seen things. In 2010 I took it down and fleshed it out to a total of 7chapters. A couple are over 2,000 words and one of them is over 3,000. The first 4 are pretty much the originals and number four is scheduled for Christmas Day. I am going to post the whole 7 chapters this week.
Joseph’s First Christmas
Part 3 of 7
Dawn does not even cross the sky as you begin your journey. Mary tries to smile but you have come to know that look. She is trying to be nice, but don’t test her patience. You start up the mountain pass and the sky is just turning into a grayish pre-dawn light and Mary says, “Joseph, I must stop and cover my feet.” You feel angry and frustrated because you have been traveling only a short time, but you try not to show it. Your place is to try to smile and make the atmosphere light because the others look to you for support and their moods are strongly influenced by yours. You stop your little group, help your heavy wife to the ground, make a couple of jokes with her father and soon are ready to move on. You must steel your nerves as this is going to be a long trip and this will likely be how the whole thing goes.
As night finally falls, you look for an out-of-the-way spot, aware that thieves and worse often travel these same roads and will also have heard the decree. Normally a much larger group travels together, but after seeing the numerous stops you have had to make you know you made the right choice.
She needs to waddle back to the bushes or her back hurts or she is sick or she is tired. Since you are all sleeping under the stars you are thankful that the weather is mild. You pray that the winter rains don’t come just yet. You look up at the expanse of the heavens and wonder how Abraham felt when he looked at the very same sky and The El-Shaddai told him his children would be as the sands of the sea and the stars in the sky. Moreover, did He not tell Abraham, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed?” What greater blessing could there be than that he would come and be among them and save them from their sins? You do not understand exactly what it all means, yet as you think on it, you feel peace and hope.
As you look at the stars, which you have not had very many occasions or desire to study, you notice a very unusual one, a brighter one that seems somewhat low in the sky compared to the others and it seems as if the star is hanging about where your destination is. Mary has told her parents the peculiar story of her elderly cousin, Elizabeth and her baby named “John” of all things, and you decide the time has come to tell them the whole story.
Since you are all part of the sect which the Pharisees have dubbed “The Holy Poor,” they believe these things and Mary has never lied to them and you have always been a man of integrity and character. It explains a lot to them, actually. They believe. It could even explain the strange light in the sky. But why didn’t you say anything before this? You explain your reticence by asking how they would have accepted such a notion if you had told them first, especially before learning of the aged cousin who was struck dumb by an angel in the temple. They acknowledge your wisdom and are filled with awe at the miracle sitting with them. This must surely be the Son of David that God had promised. Immanuel, “God with us.” You tell them that the angel gave you the name for the boy, but you feel you shouldn’t speak the name until He is born. You tell them that “He shall save His people from their sins.”
You are glad you brought everything you could and thankful for a strong beast. You have been able to keep everyone fairly comfortable, especially your wife. Well, as comfortable as you can, anyway. She tries to be her usual gracious, kind, sweet self, but with the constant pain, if not in her womb, then in her back, if not in her back, the baby is kicking her and when the baby kicks her she has to relieve herself, and she is just generally in a state of constant misery and there is nothing you can do about it except be patient and smile a lot. You watch her now as she prepares to lie down. Much of the beast’s load is cushions and pillows. Poor girl, she has tried so hard not to be a bother, but the trip would have been full of frustration and grief no matter what. How dare the Romans demand such a thing? If only the people, especially the leaders of the people, had obeyed and believed The Lord, there would be no Romans. You think further and wonder. This child, this Son of God, must be our hope. Could he be the Messiah you have dreamed and spoken about? He could defeat and even destroy the Romans along with all of their other enemies and bring back true righteousness to the religious leadership. You have always trusted in the Most High One, but cannot understand all of these things. You chuckle to yourself and shake your head as you recall the Scripture that says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
But, why come in this manner?
“OH!” She cries out in a mix of anger and anguish and pain, blankets and cushions and pillows and bedding flying everywhere, “I just got all comfortable and now I have to go again!” She starts to cry and you feel bad for her, but know there is nothing to be done but try to comfort her as well as you are able. Perhaps her mother has some words of advice or wisdom such as women have passed down to each other since Eve. (And which men have never understood and never could.) You and her father exchange glances and begin to pick up bedding as her mother goes with her to comfort her.
Different parties overtake you along the road and you are becoming quite a large group, making the standing of watch against robbers easier. As your party grows, you meet up with family members you normally only see on the three occasions a year when you have to go to Jerusalem. The women are very understanding and helpful and the journey becomes slightly easier, except for all the stopping, of course, but there is nothing to be done about that and you smile as the wives explain to their husbands why they should hang back with your group. Men may be in charge by day, but women always have their say. The women all begin to hang back together as the men push forward. You are not as worried as you had been, but still, there are many things to consider.
You are feeling hopeful and happy until you see the growing crowds and crowds of people as you travel around Jerusalem, intending to avoid the multitudes there, and wend your way toward Bethlehem. Your large group, gathered from the various villages along the way, is not the only one on its way to Bethlehem and you begin to worry about what will happen when you get there. It is almost the twenty-fifth and you will be blessed to make it at all. But at least you are this close.