It was cold and the bearded young man was weary.
He trudged along,
surrounded by a sea of people, animals and wagons.
All traveling toward the same city; toward Bethlehem.
The donkey he was leading balked;
the man was suddenly furious, but when he turned,
he looked into his wife's eyes and his anger died, replaced by worry.
If he was tired, how must she feel?
Joseph gently touched her knee;
it tensed under his hand.
He looked more closely at her.
"Oh, no!" he whispered.
She leaned against him until the pain passed,
then smiled up at him
"He is coming, my husband," she said softly.
"Our child will be born tonight."
Joseph turned and strode ahead,
pulling the donkey and it's precious burden faster.
He sighed as he came out of the last hostel in town.
"They have no room."
She nodded, caught in the throes of another, harder pain.
He touched his forehead to hers; clasped her cold hands in his.
"All they have is a stable!"
She nodded. "That will be fine"
He pulled the donkey to it's feet.
She settled back in a nest of clean straw and soft blankets.
It was over at last.
It had been hard; shockingly painful and frightening --
the innkeeper's wife, worried about them, had arrived just in time --
and her Joseph had helped, his face ashen, his eyes anxious.
Now the child, their son, nestled in her arms.
Joseph knelt beside her, still nervous.
Their journey had been one of such wonder.
His heart overflowed with love for his beloved and the child.
A noise outside drew Joseph's attention;
she was finally alone with her child.
The top of his downy head was so soft beneath her hand.
She kissed it tenderly.
Could he be what had been foretold?
The Counsellor? The Prince of Peace?
Joseph came back into the warm cave,
an odd look on his face.
"These men have come to see the baby."
A large group of men crowded into the cave.
Awkward and rough, they looked dazed
but when their eyes fell upon the mother and child,
they went down on bended knee.
The baby slept on;
Mary watched him, a faraway look in her eyes.
She knew what the future held for Him.
What mother does not know her child?
For now, He was here, He was safe, He was hers.
The promise of the angels would take place in its own time.
© Ellie Maziekien
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