Well, it finally happened. I made a mistake. This doesn’t happen often, so you might want to record this for posterity’s sake. I’m joking of course – about not making mistakes often; I probably make more of those than I do anything else, but let’s save that discussion for another day.
When I began writing this, I pulled names of ‘lesser’ character from legends and tradition. Like Mary’s father: I had read his name was Joachim, never considering that Mary’s genealogy is written in Luke 3 and her father’s name is listed as Heli. So, I’ll start using Heli henceforward and I will go back and fix the name in former posts, so as not to confuse my readers.
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1 Sivan (May)
Joseph makes his way down the path to Mary’s house, located on the edge of town. The walk was not long, perhaps fifteen minutes, but he is perspiring with each step he takes. And he is covered in sawdust. He had been working since dawn, though, and he wanted to see Mary. It could not be helped.
He wipes his forehead with his sleeve and takes the steps down the alley, clutching the flowers he had picked for Mary in his other hand. They aren’t much, but it gives him a reason to see her.
Joseph turns the corner and sees Mary’s house. He bounds the last few steps and with the flowers behind his back, he knocks on the door, trying to be patient. He begins to knock again, when the door opens. Heli stands there, a look of astonishment on his face.
“Joseph!” he exclaims. “How are you?”
Joseph smiles; he liked the older man. In his own way, he reminded Joseph of his father, Jacob, who had passed away several years ago. Being the only son, Joseph assumed the care of his mother, but having his father gone from this world left a void in him he couldn’t explain. And now that he was betrothed and getting ready to become a husband, and one day a father, Joseph couldn’t help by think of himself fortunate that he should be able to call Heli his father-in-law.
“I am well, thank you,” he replies.
“How is your imma?” Heli asks.
“She is also well.”
Joseph pauses, waiting for Heli to continue, but an awkward silence follows instead. He expects to hear the younger children screaming or running around like they always did, but not a sound could be heard from the interior of the house. He clears his throat and asks, “Is Mary here?”
“No,” Heli responds, looking back into the house, then out at him. “She is not here. She is visiting family in the hill country.”
Joseph tries not to sound disappointed.
“When will she return?”
“Uh…well, it’s a delicate situation…with the kinsman, you see… She could be gone for months.”
He doesn’t even try to mask his emotions this time.
“I’m sorry. We should have sent word, but it’s just busy here, what with the little ones.”
Taking in a deep breath, Joseph says, “No, I understand.”
Heli pats him on the shoulder.
“You’re a good man.”
Joseph offers him a weak smile in response.
“I will tell Anna you stopped by,” Heli adds as he shuts the door, leaving Joseph in the doorway, holding the flowers he brought for his betrothed. He looks down at them, wondering what to do with them now that Mary was gone.
She’s only gone for a few months, he tells himself. She’ll be back. It will give you time to finish building the new house and make preparations to bring her home as your ishah, your wife.
Though it was true, it didn’t take away the disappointment of not seeing Mary.
She’ll be back, Joseph tells himself again, and heads home.