"Here." She handed the bundle to me, the red, wrinkled, squalling face in the middle of a bloodstained white cloth. "I need to sleep."
sank back into the prickly straw, grateful, I'm sure, to be off the
mule. Grateful to be rid of the constant jarring journey of the last
few days. Grateful to have the baby on the outside instead of on the
The baby. I moved my arms so the tiny head was
supported by my elbow. The shrill cries filled the stable, drowning
out the low wicker of the horse, the chomp chomp of the cow chewing her
cud. I shifted the bundle until the baby's head nestled into the crook
of my neck, brushing my beard with his tiny forehead.
I felt, I couldn't identify. This baby didn't belong to me. My seed
didn't help to create this little miracle. In obedience, I had married
the girl lying in the straw. But so far, we'd never gotten intimate.
Out of impossibility, this very loud, flesh-and-blood infant became
The angel had said that the child was from
God. What if I had dreamed it? What if it was all in my imagination?
What if she really had been unfaithful? And then lied about it? But no - the angel was real. I'm sure of it.
why me? And why Mary? Why had God chosen to allow us to parent His
Son? Out of all the more deserving people in this wide world, why
choose a carpenter? I looked down at my calloused fingers rubbing the
baby's back. So big. Rough. Clumsy even. I bounced the bundle
gently. "Hush now," I whispered. "You'll wake your mama."
The baby's cries gradually stilled into silence. I leaned my head back. His dark eyes slowly disappeared beneath heavy lids. His tri-cornered mouth opened, shallow breaths drawing in and out. Sleep, sweet peaceful slumber.
Maybe this wasn't my baby by all the rights of physical DNA. But I knew my son as he lay on my chest. I loved my son as he slept deeply. And I worshiped my Son as I realized his divinity.
"Sleep well, my son," I whispered. "God's got big plans for you."