Joseph’s choice*

Joseph was given a dream.

That’s all. Just a dream.

Mary had a bloomin’ angel bust into her house to give her the news. But all Joseph received, was what could have easily been attributed to one too many glasses of smashed up fermented grapes before beddie-bye.

Joseph had to live his whole life wondering if that dream was a truth or not. If his “Son” was the result of the Lord’s plan, or just one ill-advised and possibly regretted interlude.

Mary has been honored ever since.

Given top billing right next to her Boy, in fact. Prayed to no less, by many who seem to think that J.C. made this an option, somewhere along the line within his three years of tutorials. It seems odd, given what little faith was needed on her part, especially considering the fact that she knew she hadn’t done anything, and again, there was that bloomin’ angel, standing smack-dab in the middle of her living room.

And Joseph?

Well, poor old Joe wasn’t even remembered by the Gospel writers. Nope, right after his part was played, he was unceremoniously escorted off the stage, never to be heard from again. We can assume he died – most do seem to go that way. But if he did while Jesus still breathed, we never even get to hear about his “Son’s” reaction. And if Jesus was the first to go, then Joseph’s tears and anguish were never written down for posterity.

Again, Mary rocks it within the gospels, right through to the bitter end. But Joseph is left forgotten. Ignored. And maybe even with his final breath, still wondering if the angel’s message was really just after all, only a stupid dream.

Georges_de_La_Tour._St._Joseph,_the_Carpenter

I’ve always had an affinity for Joseph.

Not only because we share the joy of fatherhood, but because I too have quite often felt – incorrectly or not – ignored in the whole scheme of things. Forgotten. Yes, even by J.C. As a result, for many years I’ve waved the Joseph flag to anyone who asked, simply because I felt that he needed to be defended.

I was wrong in thinking that of course. Joseph needs no more defending than his “Son” does. Joseph needs no adulation, similar to that being provided Mary by her cult, either. No, I believe that Joseph is just all right with the way things went.

Joseph – whether he truly believed the dream or not – chose to tell the angel that appeared in it that he would. Joseph – even if he was in the final analysis, history’s most gullible man – voluntarily put his life at risk then, and several times afterwards. All while defending a wife and a “Son” who weren’t truly his, just for his chosen belief, which truly was.

Again, we’ve no idea what sort of lessons Joseph imparted upon Jesus, nor how much of the Son of Man’s personality was weaned from the man who chose to believe in the Son enough, as to sacrifice his life for Mary and He. But when my children offer me the mantle of “Best Dad In The World,” I’m quick to remind them that – while I am honored – I feel that it’s actually Joseph who deserves that title. The man who gave all for his charges, and was then all but forgotten by the very ones who benefitted most from his sacrifice of ensuring that the “Son” (possibly of just a man), could live long enough to become the Son of Man.

Joseph was given a dream.

And he chose to believe that dream – to believe in those who were part of it. That’s a sort of faith that is stronger than reason, and that’s the sort of man I currently struggle to be. For my sons, my daughter, my friends, and for me.

Merry Christmas.

* My gratitude and appreciation to Rev. Ellen Brauza, who’s insight and wisdom served as the inspiration that finally allowed me to put down into somewhat coherent sentences the above trail of thought.

Briefly…

In keeping with the season, here’s my rather mopey entry for this week’s 100 Word Song.

I really do wish that you would play along.

See what I did there? How I made a sort of Christmas-like rhyme just now? That’s pretty cool, right?

Oh, and here’s the BEST version of this song EVER…

Friday, Black, no sugar

With it being the day that it is, I couldn’t think of a single song better to be chosen as the “Very First Song of Christmas” posted here for this year…

Enjoy!

12/23 To Life!

*Ahem*

Happy birthday to You,

Happy birthday to You,

Happy birthday,

Baby Jesus,

Happy birthday to you.

For some, Christmas lights will be twinkling and a new born savior babe will appear beneath the brightest star.

For others, eight magical candle-lit nights will be followed by eight magical smile-filled days, and a temple will be reborn.

A few more will be sharing the Yule Feast with family and friends, in celebration of the solstice of winter.

And for others still, an extra long weekend will simply be enjoyed and celebrated – all because there’s a whole bunch of people out there who just happen to believe in things like savior babes and magical lights.

Regardless of what persuasion you happen to be this year, i hope you enjoy your holiday season to it’s fullest. i hope you enjoy all the food you eat too much – or not too much – of. i hope you enjoy your wine. Unless you don’t drink of course. i hope that your celebrations are merry, boisterous and bright. Unless you prefer to stay home, quietly snuggled up in front of the fire, real or imagined. Most importantly though, i hope – i pray – that you take the time to enjoy the people in your life, and reflect upon how important they are. How important we all are. Together we are a living web, each of us merely a strand, and none of us truly able to survive without the others. Whether created or coincidental, we’re all we’ve got, and that’s exactly good enough.

Thank you for being a part of my web this year, and i sincerely hope that the Naughty List finds not your name upon it.

Peace!

t

12/19 drummer boys, wise men & kings

To look at my dad, you might think he was much more of a “We Three Kings Of Orient Are” kind of guy, when in fact “The Little Drummer Boy” is actually his wassail of choice. This is so much the case, that i find myself asking him almost annually to clarify which of the two it is that is actually his favorite.  i seem to recall being told while growing up that his reasoning behind picking the latter over the former was due to the drumming involved. But as anyone who’s heard the song knows, there’s damned little use of actual drums throughout the arrangement, especially when in consideration of its subject matter. Now as dad is nearing his end, he’s becoming much more expressive, and is sharing a lot more of whom he really is with me. That, or i’m just finally paying attention. Either way, i can now see that what i’ve long suspected to be true really is. Dad is a bigger fan of the drummer boy, at least in part, because he feels much more kinship with that one unsure boy than he does with any and all of the three wise men.

The difference between the two is pretty stark. Whereas the kings are driven with purpose and sure in their knowledge, the little drummer boy is a straggler, who simply happens upon his miracle in lieu of actively searching it out. The kings come ready, bearing gifts that admittedly – if delivered to a child of this day in age, would most likely be exchanged before the day’s end – but are still respectful enough. The drummer boy however, comes with even less, having only a song in his heart. A little ditty that he doesn’t even recognize as having any kind of worth. And therein lies the shame, and the message, of the song. The drummer boy is valued not because the song he plays is wonderful, practiced or Billboard chart-worthy, but rather because it is of himself. Simply and solely unique to him, and possible only through him. Given freely and with more than a bit of embarrassment, of all the “gifts” given, his is the one that the babe smiles upon. His is the one that the Christ child cherishes more than even he himself does.

Like so many of us struggling through life – or more to the point, accepting ourselves during this struggle of life – the little drummer boy seeing no apparent worth to his song is an extension of how he feels about his self. And i think my dad feels that very acutely in his own life at times as well. Much more so than he’s ever previously let on to at least, both to those around him, and to himself. Knowing my own self (but not trying to project “me” onto him), i feel that dad may also have spent a good deal of his life feeling unworthy. Feeling “wrong”. Feeling like his song was without value. Seeing him as i do now, i get the feeling that dad too has struggled with the idea that Christ could love him for no apparent reason. Even though he does. And he does, not because dad played for him a Top Of The Pops hit, but simply because dad “played his best for him.” Because for Jesus, your best is exactly good enough. For many of the rest of us though – dad and myself included – it’s not even close enough to obtain a passing grade. Seeing as Jesus sits at the right hand, i suppose his opinion trumps ours, but you try and tell my dad that. My dad, who might have acted as if he were a king, but only ever felt himself to be a drummer boy. My dad, who may not realize that the kings were majestic, yet humbled by the babe. The drummer boy however, a person of seemingly little importance, was made great by this same child. All with one little smile of acceptance. The drummer boy left the scene redeemed. My dad needs to follow suit. i hope he does. He deserves to.

i’m proud of my drummer boy dad, and i fear that these days, there are far too few drummer boys left. Or put another way ’round, i fear there are far too many who would consider themselves “kings” hanging about. The problem being that these new royals are not necessarily of the wise, or even moderately shrewd, variety. While they may have crowns upon their heads, these were purchased instead of earned, bought instead of granted. Many of the crowns worn today only go to show that you can trample on the needs of the many in order to meet with your own personal desires, and simply covering yourself in gold doesn’t make you more valuable. Spewing forth catch-phrases eschewing positive thoughts doesn’t make you an actual force for change either. And beating others over the head with how “awesome” you are doesn’t necessarily make it so. If you want to be more valuable, give instead of taking, even when no one’s looking. Especially when no one’s looking. Should you desire to be a force for change, then change your own life instead of others, conducting yourself in an ethical fashion. Even the times when it doesn’t work to your advantage to do so. If you want to be awesome, start doing awesome things within your scope of talent for those who could use your help, and place others first. Not just your “others”, but others “others” as well. Do the little drummer boys of this world need to suck it up and learn some self-love? By all means. But the new “kings” would also do well to turn it down a notch, and start spreading love around instead. Not just in word, but deed as well.

It’s the final week before Christmas, and this is my third-to last post about the holiday season. Well, for this year at any rate. i apologize for my brief soap-boxian moment just now, but it is only because my hope – albeit wholly naive to the point of being absolutely moronic to even voice in public – is that all the wise men, the kings and the drummer boys of this world can use this week ahead to ready ourselves. Not so much for the birth of the newborn king – as that will come whether we’re ready or not, and regardless of our acceptance of it – but rather, to actually put into action all the peace, love and goodwill spoken of so freely during this time of year as a result of his coming. We don’t need to be perfect at it, we just need to agree to it, to keep at it daily and to do our best always. And in turn, our best will be exactly good enough.

Heck, stranger things have happened…