Across Pacific & Asia

 THE Story
as told from Joseph's perspective

Author unknown. Sent from Carol Broadaway via Jim Linzey.

Dear Mom,

 We're still in Bethlehem -- Mary and I and little Jesus.

 There were lots of things I couldn't tell you about last summer.  You wouldn't have believed me then, but maybe I can tell you
 now. I hope you can understand.

 You know, Mom, I've always loved Mary. You and dad used  to tease me about her when she was still a girl. She and her
 brothers used to play on our street. Our families got together  for supper. But the hardest day of my life came scarcely a
 year ago when I was twenty and she only fifteen. You  remember that day, don't you?

 The trouble started after we were betrothed and signed the  marriage agreement at our engagement. That same spring
 Mary had left abruptly to visit her old cousin Elizabeth in  Judea. She was gone three whole months. After she got
 back, people started wondering out loud if she were pregnant.

 It was cloudy the day when I finally confronted her with the  gossip.

 "Mary," I asked at last, "are you going to have a baby?"

 Her clear brown eyes met mine. She nodded.

 I didn't know what to say. "Who?" I finally stammered.

 Mom, Mary and I had never acted improperly -- even after  we were betrothed.

 Mary looked down. "Joseph," she said. "There's no way I  can explain. you couldn't understand. But I want you to know
 I've never cared for anyone but you." She got up, gently took  my hands in hers, kissed each of them as if it were the last
 time she would ever do that again, and then turned towards  home. She must have been dying inside. I know I was.

 The rest of the day I stumbled through my chores. It's a  wonder I didn't hurt myself in the wood shop. At first I was
 angry and pounded my frustrations out on the doorframe I  was making. My thoughts whirled so fast I could hardly
 keep my mind on my work. At last I decided to end  the marriage contract with a quiet divorce. I loved her too
 much to make a public scene.

 I couldn't talk to you. Or anyone, for that matter. I went to  bed early and tried to sleep. Her words came to me over
 and over. "I've never cared for anyone but you.... I've never  cared for anyone but you...."

 How I wished I could believe her!

 I don't know when I finally fell asleep. Mom, I had a dream  from God. An angel of the Lord came to me. His words
 pulsated through my mind so intensely I can remember  them as if it were yesterday.

 "Joseph, Son of David," he thundered, "do not fear to take  Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in
 her is from the Holy Spirit."

 I couldn't believe my ears, Mom. This was the answer! The  angel continued, "She will give birth to a son, and you are
 to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his  people from their sins."

 The angel gripped my shoulders with his huge hands. For  a long moment his gaze pierced deep within me. Just as
 he turned to go, I think I saw a smile on his shining face.

 I sat bolt upright in bed. No sleep after that! I tossed about  for a while, going over the words in my mind. Then I got up
 and dressed quietly so I wouldn't wake you.

 I must have walked for miles beneath the moon less sky.  Stars pricked the blackness like a thousand tiny pinpoints.
 A warm breeze blew on my face.

 I sang to the Lord, Mom.

 Yes, me, singing, if you can imagine that. I couldn't contain  my joy. I told Him that I would take Mary and care for her. I
 told Him I would watch over her and the child--no matter what  anyone said.

 I got back just as the sun kissed the hilltops. I don't know  if you still recall that morning, Mom. I can see it in my mind's
 eye as if it were yesterday. You were feeding the chickens,  surprised to see me out. Remember?

 "Sit down," I said to you. "I've got to tell you something." I  took your arm and helped you find a seat on the big rock out
 back. "Mom," I said, "I'm going to bring Mary home as my  wife. Can you help me make a place for her things?"

 You were silent a long time. "You do know what they're saying,  don't you, my son?" you said at last, your eyes glistening.

 "Yes, Mom, I know."

 Your voice started to rise. "If your father were still alive, he'd  have some words, I'll tell you. Going about like that before
 you are married. Disgracing the family and all. You.... you  and Mary ought to be ashamed of yourselves."

 You'd never have believed me if I'd tried to explain, so I didn't.

 Unless the angel had spoken to you, you'd have laughed me  to scorn. "Mom, this is the right thing to do," I said.

 And then I started talking to you as if I were the head of the  house. "When she comes I don't want one word to her about
 it," I sputtered. "She's your daughter-in-law, you'll respect her.  She'll need your help if she's to bear the neighbors' wagging

 I'm sorry, Mom. You didn't deserve that. You started to get  up in a huff.

 "Mom," I murmured, "I need you." You took my hand and  got to your feet, but the fire was gone from your eyes.

 "You can count on me, Joseph," you told me with a long  hug. And you meant it. I never heard another word. No bride
 could hope for a better mother-in-law than you those next  few months.

 Mom, after I left you I went up the road to Mary's house and  knocked. Her mother glared at me as she opened the door.
 Loudly, harshly she called into the house, "It's Joseph!" almost  spitting out my name as she said it.

 My little Mary came out cringing, as if she expected me to  give her the back of my hand, I suppose. Her eyes were red
 and puffy. I can just imagine what her parents had said.

 We walked a few steps from the house. She looked so young  and afraid. "Pack your things, Mary," I told her gently. "I'm
 taking you home to be my wife."

 "Joseph!" She hugged me as tight as she could. Mom, I didn't  realize she was so strong.

 I told her what I'd been planning. "We'll go to Rabbi Ben-Ezer's  house this week and have him perform the ceremony."

 I know it was awful sudden, Mom, but I figured the sooner we  got married the better it would be for her, and me, and the baby.

 "Mary, even if our friends don't come, at least you and I can  pledge our love before God." I paused. "I think my Mom will
 be there. And maybe your friend Rebecca would come if her  dad will let her. How about your parents?"

 I could feel Mary's tiny frame shuddering as she sobbed quietly.  "Mary," I said. I could feel myself speaking more boldly. "No
 matter what anyone says about you, I'm proud you're going to  be my wife. I'm going to take good care of you. I've promised
 God that."

 She looked up.

 I lowered my voice. "I had a dream last night, Mary. I saw an  angel. I know."

 The anguish which had gripped her face vanished. She was  radiant as we turned away from the house and began to walk
 up the hill together.

 Just then her mother ran out into the yard. "Wait," she called.  She must have been listening from behind the door. Tears were
 streaming down her cheeks.

 "I'll get your father," she called, almost giddy with emotion.  "We," she cried as she gathered up her skirts. "We," she
 shouted as she began to run to find her husband. "We ... are  going to have a wedding!"

 That's how it was, Mom. Thanks for being there for us. I'll write  again soon.

 Love, Joseph


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