I can only watch now. Too much pain in my right hip. I suspect it has everything to do with trying to hobble that wayward lamb that kept running off. We never like having to do it, but they’re just stubborn … I guess sort of like us, like me …
I rolled down that valley wall. It didn’t hurt too much when I slammed into that boulder! I was young: weren’t we all! But, as the years have passed, first the rains would make it flare and now, well, I watch the flock go and am left simply to remember.
I’m old, though my memory reaches back. We didn’t have it then. I’m not even sure we knew to look for it, need alone where. And now, years since he died, even further since he was born, people are writing stuff down, they say.
Never had much use for those who thought they were smarter with word keeping. Those who have, always will, Abba told us as we tended to flock. Sometimes, after weeks away from the markets, we took what we needed. The Centurions wouldn’t let us feed or water the herd. If they didn’t allow us to market, well, like I said, we didn’t have it before then so we did what had to feed ourselves, our kin and flocks.
I hear some are saying there were lights and stars, singing and rejoicing, even word keepers from afar. I don’t remember it that way, but then I’m old and does it really matter? We all got the same thing that night, so long ago, who cares how you dress the goat? It’s the quality of it’s health that matters!
Nothing seemed special that night. Those in Caesarea told them to round us up – a census or some such thing. We knew what it was. Gather them, brand them and hobble those who might wander. Hobble, of course, was code to make sure the trouble makers were under Caesar’s thumb!
Oh and it smarted. Already there were those who thought revolution was ordained, that to tolerate this was blasphemy. For most of us, though, it’s all we knew. Whether Greek or Roman, Egyptian or others who came before, we had always known the yoke. Sometimes we wore it, sometimes we didn’t, and we always found ways to celebrate Yahweh in our own way. If it wasn’t Caesar, it would be someone else, Abba used to say.
But that night – sorry these memories have a habit of taking me afield – it was normal, nothing special. Yet … there it was. Like when we would sing when we met other flocks. After the night settled, we’d gather, share the news. Then, if we sang and found that shared note, it was in you: harmony some call it. That was what that night was like.
Too many people everywhere – shepherds will take wolves over people. People are trying at the best of time, worse when they’re forced together. The town was crowded, so we waited outside. Soldiers had herded us too – they were watching. Sure, we were afraid, sometimes when the Romans gathered us, a little example could keep the yoke tight. That night, they watched.
Then there it was – birthing cries. The people kind, she was in pain and just outside of the town. So we went – when the mother cries, you reply, was another of His lines. There they were in one of the caves – they were lucky the Centurions had cleared it for the census or no one would a been born that night. As it was, there they were.
Nothing special, just like us. An abba and an imma. She was bearing – with those screams you would of thought the babe was breached as she straddled the cave entrance. Her arms holding her as she squatted. As we arrived, he looked worried as we approached – and why shouldn’t he? We were those people everyone avoided …
But … but she stopped screaming, boy popped out, a snip, a slap … a pause then he cried. Nothing special. So help me nothing special. We might have been singing before her screaming called us, but none after. Just silence, just normal nothing …
But … in the silence, we knew, but we didn’t … like that song thing again. We felt it, but there are no words. That wee baby, all covered in the muck of birth, was … special? Holy? Words, did I mention that I’m not really a fan?
Ah well, here’s the punchline. The hips flaring and I need to do something today other than sit, but before I go, are you wondering what it is we learned? I’ve thought about it for awhile, you know to get the right word, even if only for words sake.
In that desolate cave, outside a town where we were being gathered like sheep, where fear like sweat beads as the hot days gives way to the desert’s cool embrace, this little nothing baby had it: Hope.
Even now, while everyone it trying to figure it out, use words to make sense of it all years after his death, Hope abides. I don’t know what you need or where you are, as you listen to the words of an old man, but know this:
- Hope means you got choices.
- Hope means when you gather, you’re not alone.
- Hope means, that even in fear, light comes in the morning.
- Hope means when you hold one another, not only are you made whole, but your dreaming dreams shapes the future.
The rest, well let the word-keepers do as is their wont …