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Sunday, December 20, 2020

Poem: “Joseph” by John Shea

You may have me kneeling with a staff, 
 my eyes unwaveringly downward on the child, 
 a portrait of commitment and readiness. 

Or I might have my hands on the reins of a donkey, 
 showing my willingness to journey to keep mother and child safe. 

Or I might be standing to the side, indicating a supportive but secondary role. 
I am hard to properly place. Wherever you put me is fine. 
I know what I have to do. I am an inheritor of dreams. 

My ancient namesake saved his people from famine by interpreting in the day the communications of the night. 
I do the same. My heart stays awake while my body sleeps. 
I listen while the sounds of the earth are silent. 
The angels of dreams only whisper commands: 
 “Take Mary for your wife.” “Take the mother and child and flee.” 
 “Take the mother and child and return.” 

 My obedience has taught me to see through scandal. 
 What grows in Mary is the work of the Spirit 
– fragile, vulnerable – pursued by the sword. 

 Life needs protection until life is ready to serve. 
 And I protect. 
 That is what you need to know about me 
 and what you need to know about yourself. 

 Perhaps in your creche you have a figure of me 
 with a staff that blossoms, flowers sprouting from the top 
 of the long, lean stick. It tells my truth best. 

 How do you make your strength serve love?

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