Writings by Carmela P.

Formerly "Mel's Musings" but do to many authors with name of Mel - changing to "Writings by Carmela P."

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Holy Family Through My Eyes - CHRISTMAS 2005


The Holy Family through My Eyes

A humble beast am I, owned by the Carpenter, Joseph. We live in Nazareth and it is bitter cold. Joseph comes to halter me and place a blanket over my back; it seems we are taking a journey. He leads me to the little house and gets Mary who has bundled herself up in a blue blanket over her white veil and dress. Joseph helps Mary climb upon my back and settles her carefully. Mary is with child and has difficulty moving with any ease. Joseph asks her, "How is that, Mary?" "Are you alright." Mary replies, "Yes, Joseph, I am fine." Then Joseph packs blankets for warmth, swaddling clothes for the infant-to-be, and some food and places them also upon my back. It is good, I have a slightly longer back than most of my counterparts.

It seems, from what I hear with my rather large ears, that the ruler, Caesar Augustus wants to know how many people live in his empire and has sent out an order that all people should be counted. The people need to go to the city to which their families belong. We set out.

It is bitter cold this morning and the snow of two days ago has iced up quite a bit. The vapors from our breaths pour out into the cold air. Occasionally my hoof slips but quickly I gain my bearing. I feel a beautiful and serene sweetness from this fine lady who sits upon my back. I perceive Joseph to be very concerned with Mary and very protective often stopping to adjust her blanket over her head and shoulders in an effort to keep her as warm as possible. His own covering is not quite so heavy but his walking to the right and in front of me, causes his body heat to rise so that he does not need as much covering as does Mary.

My mane and tail are very coarse and upright. My tail is a little like a cow's tail ending in a tasseled switch. In warmer weather, especially in summer, my tail chases away annoying gnats, flies and mosquitos. When I bray my voice is raspy and brassy. I feel I was placed here, in this time, for this special journey.

I am happiest being around my family, this family of Joseph and Mary soon to give birth to her baby. We are on our way to Bethlehem. The day has been long and we stopped for a couple of meals in an empty shack and a lean-to for a little shelter and rested a little while, then continued on.

As we enter Bethlehem, Joseph checks a number of inns with no provision available in any of them. Mary is so very weary now and needs to rest as much as possible for it appears her baby is soon to be born. Joseph is upset and feels inadequate to caring properly for Mary as she is soon to deliver. He tries one more Inn and the Innkeeper, realizing the situation, makes mention of a stable in the back of his property. You may stay there. There are the animals that throw off some warmth from their body heat. There is plenty of fresh straw you may place over where your wife will rest, and you may use anything you find in there to make yourselves as comfortable as possible. Joseph was very grateful and told Mary that they may stay in the stable. This is not quite what a woman about to give birth would want but Mary is very grateful also. There are a couple of candle lanterns to light up the darkness.

With great care Joseph helps Mary down off my back. I try slouching a little to make it easier for them. Joseph prepares an area for Mary. He places lots of fresh straw on the dirt floor and also places one of the blankets he had packed over the straw. For the infant's pillow, Joseph fills a folded robe with straw and places it in the manger in readiness for the Baby Jesus. The robe was sewn by Mary herself as she planned for the Virgin Birth. It was spotless and white like Mary's soul as her spirit magnified her Lord and rejoiced in God, her savior. Soon Jesus would be born.

Joseph walked me into the stable to be near Mary. My body heat would help warm her and her Infant. I was standing next to other animals, sheep, cows, and other barnyard creatures. For the number of animals in the stable it seems a very reverential pallor has come over all of the inhabitants at this time. No animal moves closer to investigate nor do they turn back and away from the unfolding scene. They just stand and their warmth enfolds Mary and her soon-to-be-born Son, Jesus. Somehow all of us know a night like no other is upon us.

The night is cold and crisp and full of beautiful stars. The sky is a very dark blue-black and I can see a brightness beginning to arise. As we stand around Mary, the stable becomes illuminated and the Power of the Holy Spirit is all around and about Mary. We cannot see into the Light although it is not blinding. It may be minutes or hours, I just don't know, but we hear the sweet cry of a newborn baby, Baby Jesus. After sometime the Light of the Holy Spirit fades and we behold the most beautiful infant ever on the face of the earth. Mary holds her baby and Joseph comes to sit by Mary and Jesus. Mary cradles Jesus for a long time. Joseph kisses Mary and kisses the Baby. He looks so proud and the Peace that envelops this Holy Family also envelops us. I know, now, my reason for living.

Most of us lull off to sleep except me. I want to keep a watchful eye on my Holy Family lest someone or something enter to disturb their much needed rest and sleep. I keep a vigilant eye on that special baby knowing somehow deep inside of me that one day he will be great and do great things.

It is morning and Mary is awake cuddling her baby who is feeding while Joseph goes out to get a pail of water. He takes me along so I can help carry a few supplies he needs to gather, bread and rice for instance. The morning is crisp, sunny, and clear. The sky is dotted with white puffy clouds. Breathing in the fresh air is invigorating.

As the day progresses into evening, we hear a rustling of footsteps outside. Joseph investigates and sees several or more shepherds who tell him they saw an angel of the Lord appear and tell them joyful news that there is a newborn savior whose name is Jesus. They were told by the angel to follow the star and indeed there was a star high above the stable. Joseph checked with Mary and the shepherds were permitted entrance. Immediately they fell to their knees in adoration of Jesus. They said they heard choirs of angels singing, "Glory to God in the highest and Peace to his people on earth."

The next evening we were visited by Wisemen on camels bearing gifts to present to the baby. They came from the East and were asked by King Herod to reveal the place where the baby lay. They brought gifts of Gold, Frankincence, and Myrrh. They knelt down before the baby and paid him homage, this special baby named Jesus, son of a young Jewish virgin. When the Wisemen left they headed home in a different direction to avoid King Herod who did not want another King to oust him from his throne of self-imposed glory.

At the Baby's circumcision on the eighth day, he is given the Name, Jesus. Afterwards, He is to appear at the Temple to be presented for purification according to the Law of Moses, therefore, Joseph readies me to carry Mary and Jesus upon my back to that Temple where Simeon waits. Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord and a sacrifice must be offered. We bring a pair of turtledoves as the offering is a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. Simeon is an upright and devout man. He looked forward to the restoration of Israel and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Simeon took Jesus into his arms and blessed God. Simeon said, "Now, Master, you are letting your servant go in peace as you promised; for my eyes have seen the salvation which you have made ready in the sight of the nations; a light of revelation for the gentiles and glory for your people Israel." (Luke 2, 21-32)

Also about this time there was an 84 year old Prophetess, widowed for 7 years who of late never left the Temple. She served God fasting and praying. She came up to Praise God. She spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem. (based on Luke 2, 36-38)

When everything according to the Law had been completed, Joseph prepared the family to return to Nazareth. Mary and Jesus were upon my back with Joseph in the lead. The trek was long but we made it without incident. It was here that Jesus grew in wisdom and maturity.

Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were very kind to me. They made sure I had plenty to eat, was brushed often and bathed from time to time. I loved how they took care of me. They spoke kindly and gently to me and my heart was happy in their care. It made me happy to serve them any way they needed me. I would do anything for them. As I grew older, I slowed up and they retired me after 20 to 25 years by having the one I sired take over most of my duties. My son performed well and I began to relax. I felt proud of him and knew he would be well cared for and he would grow to love my Family.

The day came when my life was completed. The joy of my life was in taking care of my Holy Family. That was my purpose for living. I was dying and Jesus was at my side. He stroked my long ears, my mane and my tired face. He blessed me as I took my last breath. What I beheld as I closed my eyes for the last time was an infusion of white light as bright as I could comfortably bear and a tranquil peace began to envelop me. I hope one day to see my Holy Family again.

It is my hope you have enjoyed this meditation through the personification of the Holy Family's beast of burden, the lowly donkey.


Mel Patterson (c) December 2005