I’ve Been There
On the occasion of my parents’ 60-something (sparing the details!) anniversary, I wanted to write some stuff about them. I usually find myself writing about my sons, and talking about them when I’m not writing. Today will be different. I think . . .
We’ve all done this, haven’t we? We think about a situation and imagine ourselves playing a role somehow. When they were little I used to tell the boys (see, there I go) stories from the Book, and I’d put them in the stories. Like this one:
“Once upon a time, a long time ago and far, far away, there were two little boys.” At this point they’d insert their names. “Yes, and they were sitting beside a dusty road with their friend, Bartimaeus. Now Bart was blind…” One of them would insert, “Becausthe, becausthe he, he couldn’t sthee!” Then I’d tell them how a crowd hustled by and someone said that a man named Jesus was in the middle of all the excitement. “And Bart started yelling at the top of his lungs, ‘Jesus, have mercy on me!’ And from the middle of a crowd, with lots of noise everywhere, this Healer heard Bart and stopped everything, saying, ‘Bring him to me.’ So these two little boys grabbed ole Bart and dragged him over there. Jesus said to Bart, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Bart replied, ‘Well, I’d like to be able to see . . .’ And Jesus restored Bart’s sight right then and there. Then Bart and the two boys fell in with the crowd as they scrambled down the dusty roads of Palestine to the next town, Jericho, where this little man named Zaccheus had climbed a sycamore tree . . . but that’s another story.”
I got the idea from watching the Christmas Pageant one year. One of the boys was a shepherd, and the other was, if I’m not mistaken, either a sheep or a camel. Anyway, I remembered putting myself in that story as a child, and thinking about my dad as Joseph, and my young mother as Mary. I think I may have been the Boy-child in this scenario, though I remember seeing Him “asleep on the hay.” Maybe I was “out-of-body” part of the time. Maybe I was the Star of Bethlehem! I also remember thinking that mom and dad probably had some appreciation for gold, frankincense and myrrh, but their value was lost on me. “Where’s that drummer boy?”
Let me drift aside here and tell you something that happened to me today. I met a fella who was behind me in line at Lowe’s (they’re improving home improvement). His name was Lane. Lane was carrying a beautiful new pick-axe. It had a red handle and a green collar where the pick-axe head was attached. The head itself was black iron except for the sharpened ends that were shiny silver. “Christmas, ya know,” Lane smiled, missing a tooth or two. “Got this for my wife!”
“She’ll be pleased,” I said and smiled.
“I don’t know,” he said, “got her a dump truck for Mother’s Day, and she didn’t seem to ‘preciate that s’much. And after all that work hidin’ it at my little brother’s!” (By then I was thinking this was about too funny to be real, figuring he must have read this somewhere.)
I suggested maybe he’d just want to get her a big hammer so she could hit him in the head with it . . .
A friend of mine bought his wife a vacuum cleaner for Christmas. I may suggest the hammer to him, too. (He’ll probably read this, or his wife will, in which case she’ll call me to borrow my wife’s hammer.)
Well, I’ve nearly lost my train of thought, but if I could find it, it would be something about wrapping paper. About how all this: Christmas Pageants, shepherds, camels, sheep, Stars of Bethlehem, hay, Mary, Joseph, pick-axes, dump trucks, big hammers, and Palestine . . . how all this is wrapping paper for the World’s most awesome Gift.
When I look at my life, and my wife, and our sons and their wives, and our parents, I understand that God still stops in the midst of hurry, crowds and noise to give us exactly what we need . . . a forgiver and a leader wrapped in swaddling cloths, His beginning in a manger.
Happy anniversary mom and dad. Thanks for giving me a lift up to this place where I can see the Baby asleep on the hay. Enjoy the Frankincense and Myrrh. I think Talbot’s is keeping watch over the Gold by night!
“Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given . . .”
“Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of lights.”