A Modern Day Mary and Joseph
SCOTT SIMON, host:
Joseph and Mary hitchhiked to a shelter next to a Wal-Mart in Pass Christian, Mississippi. They'd lost their home in a hurricane and the trailer that FEMA had promised wasn't ready. Joseph was a carpenter and there was lots of work in the area, but he and Mary had no place to live and Mary was pregnant. She told Joseph that he would be the child's father, but he wasn't the child's father. The spark that began the life of their child, she said, came from--well, it was too embarrassing for Joseph to repeat. It sounded impossible and ridiculous. Friends told him he was being taken for a fool, but Joseph loved Mary. He knew that the last few months had been hard for her. Joseph decided that whatever fantastic stories Mary told him, he would love the child as his own.
When Joseph and Mary got to Pass Christian, they were told there was no room at the shelter. But a kindly man said they could unroll their blankets on the floor of his garage next door. The garage was cold, he said, but it had a wireless Internet connection. That night Mary had a baby boy. He seemed healthy, wrinkly and had a nice loud cry. Mary laid their baby down on the back of a hybrid car that was under repair, swaddled in the one denim jacket Joseph was able to take when they fled their house. Mary lay down on the front seat; Joseph rolled down the windows. A stray gray dog, still grimy from the road and whimpering with loneliness, kept watch over the baby and helped keep him warm with her panting. Joseph also plugged his iPod into a set of speakers so their baby could be lulled to sleep with music.
That night a star appeared in the east--actually quite a few stars, but Bill Gates noticed one in particular and sent Five Wise People, the group recently expanded from Three Wise Men to Pass Christian to see Joseph and Mary's child. Bono, William Safire, Monica Ali, Aung San Suu Kyi and Henry Lewis Gates--no relation--all wanted to bring the child gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. But they hadn't been available since the hurricane. So the wise people brought chipotle lime taco chips, chocolate chip cheesecake and asparagus for fiber. The infant saw them and smiled.
Mary saw the look of delight in her child's face and said to herself, `He's happy to be in this world. He's happy to be with us.' But she saw Joseph sitting off by himself at the far end of the garage. She knew he was worried about how he was going to make a life for their child. When Joseph came back to the car, his eyes glimmered. `I think I finally understand,' he said, `why we're here, why we've been given the gift of this child. It doesn't matter who the father is, does it? Every child born cries for our love and deserves our care. Every child who's hungry in Sudan or Louisiana or Indonesia, every little girl who's abandoned by a roadside in China, every little boy in Uganda who's dragged into somebody's army while he's still not as tall as the gun they put in his arms, every teen-ager who never seems to take off their earbuds, every little boy and girl anywhere who's threatened by a bomb, an epidemic, a bullet or a storm. I must love them as a father loves his child.'
Mary and Joseph sat with their arms around each other and around their baby boy. The dog--they decided to adopt her on the spot--hopped up in the seat beside them and put her head gently onto Joseph's lap. The star that had found them seemed to stay above them for a moment, while their child breathed softly, safely, peacefully in their arms, looking out at a world that seemed suddenly new.
(Soundbite of "Silent Night")
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