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I See You

Total darkness. That’s what it’s like the night of His birth.

You watched. You’ve watched for a long time, in fact. First, you watched Joseph and every skillful throw of his hammer; the way he ran his soot-covered hand through his black, curly hair; the way sweat raced and glistened on his dark skin. Then, you watched Mary as she went about her day—past guards and alleys in her home town; the first time she chose a dress to wear and how the pearl-blue color of it twisted in the sun as she danced on the Sabbath. You watched their betrothal, and the wary, shy looks in their young eyes.

You were there when the angel spoke to Mary. You remember it all so well; it is not something you will ever forget. Mary woke with wide brown eyes. She scooted back in her bed in the corner of her room. Her cover fell from her knees, leaving them visible, two knobs of brown. Her sleeping gown was gold in the light of Gabrielle.

Gabrielle stood before Mary, though the angel seemed to float rather than stand. Her white robes flowed effortlessly around her. “Do not be afraid, Mary,” Gabrielle said gently, slowly, “for you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.”

You watched, over time, Mary’s belly grew with righteous, holy life. Most importantly, though, you watched Joseph and Mary both as they traveled to Bethlehem.

That night was colder than usual, though not quite freezing. Still, puffs of white breath could be seen from donkey’s quivering lips.

Mary sat atop the donkey, one hand clasped to her stomach. Pain struck her there, her back too. But she would not cry or complain.

You watch, because you have been commanded you cannot go near Joseph or Mary. They have been protected by God’s hand; who are you to argue? Still, you are intrigued. Something about the life growing inside Mary calls to you, a beacon of hope and light. So you follow.

You follow Joseph and Mary house to house as they search, weary-footed and cold-bitten, for a spare room. They find not one. You cannot touch them, but you can encourage them. You let the wind get colder, to nip at their ears. They decide to stay in the only shelter available—a stable with hay scattered across its floor, which smells of dusty feed, of dirt-covered hooves, and matted fur.

There, Joseph carries Mary to a dip in the hay in the privacy of a stable stall. There, you follow her closely. Her water breaks, and panic fills her eyes. You hover, even, your hand close to her neck and the sweat and strained breath there. You want to brush the back of your fingers against her pulse and give her relief. But you will not.

Mary screams, filling the night with her labor. Joseph stays by her side, his hand wrapped in hers. White knuckles, sore muscles. They hold onto each other as their son is born.

That’s when the night changes. The cold breeze turns just a bit colder; in Bethlehem, it’s out of the ordinary. But it’s not unheard of. A stray cloud lets loose fragile drifts of snow before it goes on its way. Then another. Flecks of white fall outside. Puffs of warmth erupt from a few spectators that stand just outside the stable. As the sky clears in the midnight wind, a star is visible.

You look back to the child. He lays in Mary’s arms, quiet as ever with eyes like hazelnuts and a rounded, pink nose. You have never seen a child open his eyes so soon, but you know this is not just any child. This is Jesus.

Jesus looks between Mary and Joseph in awe, seeing through His human eyes for the first time. Then He looks at you.

You will look Him in the eye again like this, if only for three days, then He will leave your company to fulfill the very reason for which He came.

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