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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Countdown to Christmas/Advent (10/23/08)

TITLE: How Many Sleeps?
By Fiona Dorothy Stevenson
10/23/08


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“Don’t fuss, he says, don’t fuss! These men are all the same. I said to him, ‘Heli, surely you know how far it is from Nazareth to Bethlehem. And Mary is heavy with this child. How can a mother not worry about her child? And her first baby – who will be there when her time comes?’ I said to Joseph,” her voice softened momentarily. “Joseph, he is a good man, very kind, very gentle.” Her tones grew strident again. “But he is a man! I said to him, ‘Who will be there to help my daughter when the baby comes?’ And do you know what he said, Heli? He said, ‘Mama, don’t worry, I will be there.’ Don’t worry! What does a carpenter know about birth? How can I not worry, Heli, how can I not worry?”

Heli waved his hand deprecatingly. “Mama…” he began. His voice was soothing, but she was not soothed.

“What if the baby comes while they are traveling?” She burst out. “What if she has a fall? What if there is nowhere for them to stay in Bethlehem? What if…”

“What if… what if… what if…” Heli interrupted her impatiently. “Is not this the way of our people? We are not Gentiles who have no gods to help them. Is not our God the living God? Did not our daughter say that this child is promised of God? That he will deliver Israel? Woman, you fuss for nothing. Our daughter is young but she is strong. You have taught her well. She is prepared. And Joseph is a good man. He will take care of her – of her and the baby. He will provide for them and he will protect them. It is not his fault they have had to travel to Bethlehem at this time. You can blame Caesar for that! Besides, have you forgotten that the angel of the Lord spoke first to Mary and then to Joseph about this baby? If it was important for God – blessed be His name – to send His angel at that time, do you doubt that He will send His angel to watch over them now?”

Red-faced after his impassioned and unaccustomed speech, Heli strode from the room. His wife picked up the bowls and plates used for their meal and carried them to the basin of water to wash them. She was subdued but still the worry lines etched her eyes and mouth. She sank to the floor, lifting her hands and eyes upward. Her tears flowed freely. Her voice was low, imploring.

“Lord, look upon your handmaid with mercy. I understand, Lord, that this is the child of Your promise, that according to Your word Mary had to go to Bethlehem because that is where the baby must be born. But Lord, forgive my importunity. Mary is my child. Can a woman forget her sucking child? It is not so long since she lay at my breast. I know that you are the great God, the only God, and that You have chosen Israel to be Your people. Look upon me, Lord, a daughter of Your people Israel, and pity me. It is so far from Bethlehem to Nazareth. How will I know? How can I be sure?”

She heard the words as a whisper, dropped into her mind. The worry lines smoothed; her face, her hands, her body relaxed.

“Listen for the angel song, My daughter. You will hear the angels sing.”


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Member Comments
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Carole Robishaw 11/01/08
Very good, sounds just like a mother and grandmother-to-be. I think you did a very good job of catching the anguish and stress of not knowing combined with a willing heart.