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Authors: Darryl Nyznyk

Mary’s Son (14 page)

BOOK: Mary’s Son
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In one of those shadows stood a boy, dirty and disheveled, wearing a tattered cloak as his only warmth against the night cold. Although he looked tired and hungry, he stood tall and proud. He eyed the street scene and the parade of visitors to his small hometown. He appeared to be about Sarah’s or Jared’s age. His name was Simon. Something about the boy caught Jared’s attention, and he watched him closely. His bearing was that of a leader, much like the bearing of Jared himself.

In the middle of the road a man in his mid-twenties walked quickly to some destination, with his wife clutching tightly to his arm. The young man and woman were dressed in fine clothing of silk and wool, and it was clear to Simon
that these two were strangers to the mean streets, those upon which the wealthy rarely tread. The couple’s pace was fast as they hoped to be invisible to the street hawkers and vagabonds who wished to separate them from their money.

As the couple walked past Simon, ten street urchins ran out of the shadows and accosted them. The street urchins were boys aged five to twelve years. They begged, pushed, and grabbed at the man and woman, who tried to break past, all the while looking fearfully at the boys. By the time the couple had extricated themselves from the chaos, they were relieved but failed to notice that the man’s money purse had fallen to the ground. Immediately, the boys jumped on the purse, fighting and pulling as the man and woman scurried away.

Simon walked calmly into the melee, started pulling boys out of the pile, and began fighting them for the purse. As fists and feet flew, it quickly became apparent that Simon was the strongest of the bunch, and he finally stood alone, holding the purse aloft. Several other boys rubbed bruised body parts and glared at him. Simon stood ready for more, but no one came after him.

“All right…he got it!” shouted Jared, who knew all along that Simon was special.

“C’mon, Simon,” whimpered one of the beaten boys.

Simon opened the purse, pulled out one coin, and held it aloft.

“Come here, James,” Simon commanded one of the boys. “This will feed all of us tonight.” He handed the coin to the boy. “Take the others with you.”

James took the coin and the other nine followed him, massaging their wounds with disgruntled looks. Simon pulled his cloak tighter around his shoulders again and turned up the street in the same direction the wealthy man and woman had gone.

“He’s a good man. He must be the leader of that gang,” whispered Jared. He watched Simon with some pride.

“Yes, he is,” answered Nicholas.

“I like him,” Jared said smugly.

“That isn’t his money. They stole it,” offered Sarah.

“What do you know, little girl?” Jared turned on her sharply. “Those people have plenty; just like you do. If they won’t share it, we take it.”

“‘We’?” asked Nicholas.

“Yeah, ol’ Simon there…and me,” Jared responded.

“Because you’re a leader too? Like him?”

“You got that right,” the boy nodded.

“Where’s he going now?” asked Sarah.

Simon had walked to the main street and turned the corner to the front of an inn crowded with the wealthier visitors. He stopped and stared toward the hills outside the town. From his vantage he could see an unusually large star
suspended high in the sky, casting bright rays directly upon what appeared to be a cave. He was mesmerized for several seconds, when suddenly the wealthy young man and woman whose purse Simon held, stepped frantically out of the inn.

“I was carrying it right here, Elizabeth,” the man said, pointing to the belt of his robe. “Those animals…I know they took it.” He turned in anger, trying desperately to determine his next move in the hopes of recovering his money.

“Andrew, let’s go to the authorities,” Elizabeth pleaded.

“For what? What can they do with this rabble?”

By then, Nicholas and his companions had reached the inn, and Jared smiled at the wealthy couple’s discomfort. “Yeah, they’ll sure be able to do something. They’d never catch Simon,” Jared said.

Within another moment, however, it became quite apparent that no one would have to catch Simon. He stepped calmly out of the inn’s shadows and up to the couple.

“Hey, what are you doing?” asked Jared.

Simon held the purse up to Andrew. “This is yours. You dropped it.”

Andrew was stunned. He reached for the purse, dazed at the thought that part of the “rabble” was actually returning his money.

“Are you crazy?” asked Jared, shocked that this boy would even consider returning the money. He believed that Simon
and his gang needed it and deserved it more than these two rich folks. Why would Simon be so foolish?

“They’re poor and hungry,” Simon said to Andrew. “I took one coin out to feed them all. That will serve as my reward for returning your purse.”

Andrew and Elizabeth stared at each other, too stunned to say anything. Simon then looked at the star above the cave and set out toward it. When the young couple finally regained their senses and turned toward Simon, he was gone.

“We must find that boy,” said Andrew. “There is hope yet in this world, Elizabeth, and we must do what we can to help someone with that young boy’s strength and character.” Andrew touched his wife lightly on the arm, and he set out at a trot after Simon.

 

SIMON made his way up the shallow dirt path toward the cave, over which the unusual star seemed to rest. A stable had been built into the front of the cave with the front half of it protruding outside the cave. The stable entry was crowded with young shepherds while others sat along the path, talking in hushed tones. Although all seemed excited, there was a sense of peace among the shepherds, who spent long days
and nights tending their flocks for the meager livings their work provided.

 

Simon stood, hands on his hips, glancing back and forth between the magnificent star and the shepherds. He puzzled over the appearance of a star so bold and bright yet viewable with the naked eye without pain. He wondered at the seeming joy of the shepherds, who by many accounts were as poor as he.

Although he was orphaned, there was a time in Simon’s early years that his father had tried to teach him the Hebrew Scriptures about the coming of a Savior. He hadn’t given any of it much thought after his parents died because he had to learn to survive on the streets. Yet some of the lessons had stuck, and he remembered the prophesy. He recalled that a star would lead the way, and somehow he knew that this was indeed that star.

As Simon continued up the slope, he heard one shepherd ask his companion, “Is it the One?”

“It is as the angel said,” responded the companion. “He has come.”

 

INSIDE the stable, in a far corner where it joined the cave wall, Nicholas, Jared, and Sarah stood in the shadows.

 

“They’re okay,” Jared whispered in relief when he saw Mary reclining comfortably on a bed of warm straw and Joseph on one knee next to her. In Mary’s arms was the baby.

Although Mary was exhausted and Joseph was concerned about his wife and child, they both cast warm, welcoming smiles to all who stood at the stable entry.

“There’s Simon,” whispered Sarah.

The boy pushed his way gently through the shepherds. He stood with the others for several seconds before he stepped toward the new family. He knelt before Mary to get a better look at the baby lying peacefully awake in his mother’s arms.

“What’s his name?” Simon asked.

“Jesus,” Mary replied.

“I have something for him.” Simon removed the tattered cloak from his shoulders and handed it to Mary, who laid it gently across the baby. “It will keep him warm.”

Mary nodded her thanks and extended a hand to touch Simon softly on the arm. They spoke in hushed tones that the three travelers could not hear. Nicholas and Sarah smiled at the sight of the street tough who showed such tenderness to the baby.

Although Jared too was riveted by the scene playing out before him, he was befuddled by Simon’s action. He had watched the boy protect the cloak during the melee in the road for the money purse. He had done all he could to protect
his one worldly possession…the item that separated him from the others…the only item that could keep him warm. To Jared, the cloak seemed a garment of high honor to be worn regally, despite its tattered condition, for it was the only one among his band of street urchins. It was his and his alone and woe, in Jared’s mind, to the one who would try to take it from him.

Yet Simon had relinquished it without a fight. In fact, he had done it willingly for a baby…a baby with whom, in Jared’s mind, Simon had no connection. What bothered Jared even more was his realization that he would not have done the same. How could such a strong leader show compassion, tenderness, and…love…Jared wondered. Leaders were strong, without emotion, ruthless when necessary and, above all, never showed weakness. Yet here was Simon, whom Jared respected, who was different.

The boy’s mind was in chaos as he staggered a step closer to the young family. Sarah had taken his hand and tugged to bring them both closer for a better look at the baby.

“Out,” came a command from the stable’s entry. The woman who had shown Mary and Joseph the shelter bustled through the gawking shepherds with an armful of blankets and a container of bread and cheese for the new parents. “Everyone out,” she commanded again. “Can’t you see she’s just had a baby? Get out…all of you.”

The lady then turned to Simon. “You too, boy.”

Simon stood slowly, a peaceful smile covering his face. The woman ushered him out of the stable, where the rich man, Andrew, stepped up to him. They smiled at each other and began a conversation that would prove fruitful to Simon and every one of his street comrades.

The Holy Family was suddenly alone except for the three time travelers. Nicholas and Sarah stepped forward out of the shadows. Jared held back, still conflicted…not yet understanding the strange power of this child. Mary turned to them.

“Come forward, Jared,” she said. “Join Nicholas and Sarah…please.”

Sarah turned to Nicholas, surprised that they were suddenly visible. Nicholas nodded slowly and, with his eyes, motioned Sarah to help Jared. She took his hand again, and together they approached the baby who now lay in a manger.

The boy’s mind was a fog. Even though he walked with Sarah, the walk was mechanical. The fact that he now realized he was witnessing something no one from his time had ever seen was boggling him. Of course, he’d heard the stories of Jesus’ birth. His mother always tried to talk about it, but it had never taken hold as anything more than a fairy tale. It was something that was fun for little kids to think about at their school Christmas pageants. Nothing more. Never anything more.

Jared, like Sarah, had been stunned upon their unceremonious arrival in the hills outside Bethlehem. How they’d suddenly gotten there was unclear, but what was clear is that they could not have gone back in time. His first instinct had been to fight Nicholas, to resist, to demand release, but when he’d seen Sarah give in to the old man so quickly, he’d decided to wait. There was something different about this tuxedoed old guy who was a caricature of Santa Claus. He decided to go along with the charade and find his moment.

By the time the travelers had seen Mary and Joseph and then followed Simon’s exploits, Jared was hooked. He was so immersed in the conditions and circumstances of these people that he completely forgot it was all just some kind of hoax. It wasn’t until he stood before the family, trying desperately to understand Simon and the reverence exhibited by him, the shepherds, and Nicholas that the reality of his situation began to overwhelm him.

His mind raced from thoughts of where he really was to why these people of such limited means seemed so happy, so at peace. Simon’s actions shocked him. Why would a tough guy who had his own gang give the money back? Give up his only worldly possession? Why would Andrew, “one of the rich people,” not try to punish Simon and…why…why would all of them be so moved by the birth of this child?

“We’ve all been waiting a very long time,” said Joseph softly as if in answer to the boy’s question.

BOOK: Mary’s Son
6.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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