This is the 1st of a short series of Christian Fiction that falls under the title of "Abide...Behold...Know" by Dorothy (Dotts) Lewellyn Justice.
From the looks of the sun, it is about mid-morning. I place myself between Mary and Joseph, as they walk away from Jerusalem after finding Jesus in the temple. The dust beneath my feet is nearly 3 inches deep from the caravans that have traveled to and from the town to celebrate the Passover. I don’t think it has rained here for a very long time. There is a warm breeze blowing and the air carries with it and occasional stench of manure.
The couple walks in silence. Joseph’s brow is bent in deep thought or concern. He appears to be in a bad mood. The staff he is holding in one hand occasionally touches the ground as he walks. A pouch-like bag hangs around his neck. Perhaps it contains water. His dusty sandals are black and hard, probably from age.
Who is he angry with? Mary? Jesus? Where is their luggage?
“He is angry for several reasons. The clothes he is wearing are dirty and very uncomfortable. Their baggage went on ahead with the caravan they were traveling with when they discovered Jesus was not with them. The trip with the caravan is every bit a part of the Passover celebrations as the feast itself. Traveling alone is a dangerous and wear journey. He dreads it. The anxiety he experienced in his search for Jesus has slowly changed from fear to relief, to anger with the boy’s unconcerned attitude about the whole ordeal. Joseph considers punishing Jesus. What he deserves is a whipping. But Joseph has refrained from this inclination only to appease Mary, as well as the uncertainty of who was at fault. After all, he is the head of the family. He should have checked to see if Jesus was with the party. But…then he is out done with Mary, too. She has bragged too much about the remarks the teachers made about the wisdom Jesus has for his young age. Where was this wisdom three days ago when everyone but he knew that the caravan was leaving? Mary and Jesus have a special relationship. He feels left out at times. He remembers the dream and his thoughts drift back in time before Jesus was born, when he had said, “Yes” to God in faith. His brow softens as the anger dissolves into wonder with the memory of that dream."
I look at Mary. She has a far-away look in her eyes too. Maybe she too is thinking about the birth of her son. She is holding a bundle of in her arms. It may be food wrapped in a heavy cloth. Her long dress is dusty, almost to knee level. She seems undisturbed by her un-kept appearance. Perhaps it is a combination of relief and exhaustion.
“She is silent so as not to disturb her husband. The joy she is experiencing in her heart carries her far above the circumstances.”
“Yes, she has always known about the boy. She taught him well, but he is an exceptional child. He is far advanced for his age. She will work even harder now to promote his learning. Joseph must be patient.”
I look back. Jesus is following nearly twenty yards behind. He is picking up rocks and throwing them. His bare feet skip and jump as he hurls the stones. He seems very content in spite of his parents concern. He picks up a large rock and stops to examine it.
The scene is very familiar. My memory drifts back to the time we were on vacation in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I was floating on a raft after a long swim. The others had gone into the cabin to take a nap. I was enjoying the peace and solitude when suddenly my raft tilted and the hand of a small boy grabbed the edge of my raft to support himself in the deep water. He was a dark complexioned boy with deep blue eyes. He was holding a large rock in his other hand examining it closely.
I balanced myself on the raft and remarked how pretty the rock was. He placed the rock on the raft and proceeded to dive into the clear water below to find more rocks. I had no idea where he came from but I soon became wear of this young stranger who invaded my solitude. I made some excuse and left to go inside to get rid of him. I never saw him again.
“I visited you once as a child and delighted you with my gifts…You never knew me. Another time…on the beach in Florida when you sat in the water’s edge gathering sea shells from the ocean wave. I gathered around you, as several black children placed shells into your hand and delighted you by giving you’re their favorites. You never knew me then either.”
I almost cried as the sweetness of those memories touched my heart and bought shame for both times I had enjoyed the attention given me but was not willing to return the same. I kept the gifts but shunned the givers.
Joseph turns around and looks at Jesus. His stern expression is quickly understood by the child. Jesus quickly runs around us then ahead of us about fifty feet. He picks up a forked stick and begins pushing it like a plow, making two paralleled lines. Writing in the dirt is already a habit with him. Perhaps this was the natural tool he used for the acquittal of the woman caught in adultery.
I move ahead to walk beside him. He does not notice me. Where is he going? Jesus runs off the road into a field. I follow. There are a few patches of flowers here and there on the ground. He picks one and looks at it closely. Above us a small flock of birds fly over. He looks up at the birds, then sadly back at his parents. What is he thinking?
“He wishes Mary and Joseph would not worry so. He was never in any danger. He knew they would return for him.. He really enjoyed conversing with the teachers. He has enjoyed the entire celebration. It was nice of the ladies to fix the food for their return trip, for Joseph had been concerned about not having food or clothing for their journey.”
He looks again at the flower.
“These flowers are here today and gone tomorrow and yet they never spin or sew. And those birds have plenty to eat. Surely we are more important than these. Someday, when I am older I will tell them how foolish they are to worry.”
God is present with us at all times and with children especially in their innocence. God uses children to visit us and give us joy, and may times to lead us back on the right path. Children are truthful and seem to have the gift of discernment. Jesus, like any other twelve year old, enjoyed the adult attention while being used to delight his teachers. Because He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, god His Father was present within Him mightily with the magnetic search for truth.
1 Cor. 13: 11-13
TRUTH is the perfect will of GOD in every situation.