Thursday, December 19, 2013

In Her Sandals -- Mary on the Move

        We head back to Bethlehem to the little home we’ve rented. I’m a little nervous because this is the first time I’ve been with Joseph. We’ve already been through so much together, and he’s been so patient in waiting as have I. Even though he’s not Jesus’s father, he loves Jesus as his very own. I see the way he looks at Jesus. I watch him when he holds Jesus and talks to him and wraps Jesus’s hand around a toy he made for him. When most men would have abandoned me and divorced me, he stayed. When I could have born such shame from those around me, he took me and made me his wife. That act alone gave me a place, a standing in this world. He leads by following what God gives him in dreams. How can I not love this man? How can I not give myself completely and wholly to him? We are husband and wife in every sense of the word.

            We get settled into a routine in Bethlehem, and even though everything seems “normal,” the star still shines at night. I love staring up into the night sky. I doubt that Jesus can see it, but I show it to him anyway. I tell him that’s his star. God is giving a sign, a big, bright sign. Jesus is toddling around, getting into everything, curious as to how things work. He’s constantly banging things together and stacking his blocks. He jabbers as he lines up his blocks, and I wonder what he’s saying. He’s such a sweet baby and such a joy. One night around Jesus’s second birthday, there’s a knock at the door. Joseph answers as I clean away the dishes. There are men from the East saying they are kings, Magi, who have come to worship the king. Really!? This hasn’t happened in some time. I am surprised. I know I shouldn’t be, but I am. They were so excited and filled with joy. Come to find out, they’ve been searching for Jesus for a long time. They bowed in front of Jesus and laid down gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Jesus warms up to them quickly grabbing their cloaks and garlands, and they are thrilled when he allows them to pick him up. I’m hesitant. They’re Gentiles, but Jesus is safe, so I just try to take it all in. When they leave, I consider the gifts they gave. The gold is for royalty. I smile because he is the King of the Jews. He will reign over the house of David. That’s what the angel told me. Frankincense is for deity. They don’t realize just how significant this is. He is Immanuel, Jesus, Son of God. It’s the third gift that gives me concern – myrrh. It’s what they use to prepare a body to be buried. Jesus is just a baby. He has a long life ahead of him. Why would they give him myrrh? I pack them all away knowing that one day a long time from now I’ll give them to Jesus to do with as he sees fit. I lay Jesus down in his crib. I kiss Joseph goodnight, and I go to bed.

            I don’t know how long I’ve been asleep when Joseph begins tossing and turning in his sleep and talking in his sleep. I place my hand on his chest, and he calms down. I roll over, and as I begin to drift back to sleep, Joseph wakes me gently saying, Get up. God’s given me a dream. We have to leave, and we have to leave now. I roll over and look into his face, and I know it’s time for action, not questions. I get out of the bed, pack Jesus’s clothes and a few toys, a bag of food and flasks of water. I grab the gold, frankincense and myrrh. Whatever I can throw quickly into bags, gets loaded onto our donkey. I pick Jesus up and put him in a wrap and secure him to my body. He’s warm and safe. I don’t get to tell anyone good-bye. We just disappear into the night, skipping out on our rental lease.

I’m so exhausted by the time we get to stop, and we don’t get to stop for long. Joseph is emphatic that we keep moving and get out of the region. Several weeks later word comes, and I hear about all those innocent baby boys that were murdered per Herod’s instructions. My heart shatters for those mommas and babies, and to know that God protected us is overwhelming. I know that even now God sees me and is protecting Jesus and myself. When I couldn't have protected my baby, God was. Who would have thought that a poor, young virgin like myself would ever play a role in history like this? Certainly not me.

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