Christmas–6. The Birth

Posted: 2013 年 12 月 12 日 in Christmas

The Birth

  1. The final few miles to Bethlehem were fatiguing to Mary and Joseph. Joseph stumbled many times in the dark and, over his shoulder, he asked his wife if she was quiet. When they were two miles from Bethlehem, she said no. She felt uncomfortable, she said, but it was bearable and she had no complaint. She hoped that they would reach the inn in time. Joseph leaned forward to pull the ass a little faster. He reached the city of David and found, to his dismay, that there were multitudes of people, some sleeping beside the road. He had not realized that there were so many who belonged to the House of David, as did he. The inn was to the left built on a cliff of rocky soil overlooking the valley. Joseph went directly to the inn, knowing that he would find room there or he would find it nowhere.

  1. He left Mary and the animal outside, and assured his wife that he would make arrangements. She too could see the crowds. Some families were sleeping outside the inn, against the wall. She said nothing. Joseph started to go inside, then stopped and returned. “Under the law,” he said, “you must have a midwife at once. Let me first find one.”  She shook her head no. The important thing, she said, was privacy. She was not worried about assistance. God had promised to take care of her, and she needed no additional help. Joseph entered the inn. The floor of the main room was full of sleeping people. The young man sought the proprietor. With supplication on his face, he begged for a small private place for his wife, who was with child. The owner listened and threw up both hands. Where? He asked. Where would you go for privacy? His own family had no room in which to sleep. Every cubit of space had been rented three days ago, and some of the transients were taking turns sleeping in one place.

  1. My wife, repeated Joseph in a tone this side of begging, is outside. She will have her first-born in an hour or two. Can you not please find a room? A little room? The owner became irritable. Every house, every field in Bethlehem was filled with people from all over Judea. The owner’s wife heard part of the plea. She called her husband aside and asked questions. The night was chill, she said. Look at the men outside the inn, sleeping with their cloaks over their noses. Why could not the young man take his wife to the cave below, the cave where the animals were kept? The owner shrugged. If Joseph wanted privacy, he said, the only place left was down the side path to the cave where the asses and small animals were kept. The young man was welcome to it, if one wanted to bring a baby into the world in a place like that. Joseph inclined his head. “I’m grateful,” he said. “I thank you.” Joseph dragged his feet returning to Mary. He told her the news. She wsa not vexatious; in fact, she seemed to be relieved. “Take me,” she said. “The time grows short.”

  1. There were paths leading from both sides of the inn down the side of the cliff. In front, as on the bow of a big ship, there was an entrance to the cave, which had been carved out a long time ago. Joseph paused to light his small lamp, then led the donkey inside. He turned to look at Mary, and, in the yellow rays, he saw that she was in deep fatigue. Joseph apologized. He said that he was sorry that the Hospice of Chamaan had no room for her, but she could see the crowds of people. He was ashamed that he had failed her in this hour. For a moment, Mary studied her husband. She brought a tender smile to her face. She told her husband that he had not failed her. Mary looked around at the haltered cattle, the few lambs, some asses and a camel. If it is the will of God, she said, that His son hsould be born in a place like this, she would not quesiton the wisdom of it.

  1. At the age of fifteen, Mary would undergo her trial alone, untended by midwife or friend, just as, thirty-four years later, her son would undergo his trial alone. She asked Joseph to build a small fire on the path outside the inn’s stable, and to fetch some water from the goatskin. Joseph did as she directed. Joseph collected clean straw from the feed boxes, cleaned out a stall, and arranged the straw as a bed and placed his cloak over it. Then he looked for wood outside, and found none. He went back up to the hospice, and bought some charcoal from the owner. When the water was hot, he filled a jar, and brought it to Mary with some cloths. She was standing, hanging onto the wall of the stall with both hands. Her head was down, and he could not see her face. In fear, he asked her to name what he could do. She said to go outside and tend the fire and heat more water and to remain there until she called him. The animals watched impassively as Mary sank to the straw.

  1. No one came down from the inn to ask how the young woman felt. If she prayed, no one heard except the animals, some of whom stopped chewing for a moment to watch; others of whom opened sleepy eyes to see. Joseph, sitting by the fire, had run out of prayers and promises. He looked up toward the east, and his dark eyes mirrored a strange thing: three stars, coming over the Mountains of Moab, were fused into one tremendously bright one. His eyes caught the glint of bright blue light, almost like a tiny moon, and he wondered about it and was till vaguely troubled by it when he heard a tiny, thin wail, a sound so slender that one had to listen again for it to make sure. “Joseph.” It was a soft call, but he heard it. At once, he picked up the second jar of water and hurried inside. The lamps still shed a soft glow over the stable, even though it seemed years since they had been lighted.

  1. The first thing he noticed was his wife. Mary was sitting tailor-fashion with her back against a manger wall. Her face was clean; her hair had been brushed. There were blue hollows under her eyes. She smiled at her husband and nodded. Then she stood. She beckoned him to come closer. Joseph, mouth agape, followed her to a little manger. In the manger were the broad bolts of white swaddling she had brought on the trip. They were doubled underneath and over the top of the baby. Mary smiled at her husband as he bent far over to look. There, among the cloths, he saw the tiny red face of an infant. This, said Joseph to himself, is the one of whom the angel spoke. He dropped to his knees beside the manger. This was the messiah.

Christmas Movie 2: A Golden Christmas




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