“Mary,” said Joseph, “Why don’t you ever sing?” They walked along the edge of her father’s field, gathering figs and olives for one of his sisters who had recently given birth.
“No you hum, but you don’t sing. Singing uses words.”
“It’s singing to me. Words…words feel so limited. I haven’t found any yet that can convey what I am feeling inside my heart.” They stopped at a well. As she lowered the bucket, she could feel Joseph’s eyes bearing into her back. Her head covering began to slip off her head as she struggled to hold the bucket and it fell back into the well. Her cheeks flushed with embarrassment.
“Let me help you.” Joseph quickly grabbed the rope that was tied to the bucket and his hand came in contact with Mary’s hand, then he awkwardly dropped the bucket again.
Mary smiled at him and they both started laughing, easing the tension between them.
Mary replayed the memory of Joseph’s rough, hard-working hands, over and over the rest of the day into the night. She smiled at the thought of it and her cheeks would flush fresh each time.
That night, Joseph told his parents he’d made a decision. The decision he’d always known he was going to make, since the day on the beach, the first time he prayed. He wanted to be with Mary. He couldn’t stop smiling as he went to sleep, replaying the feel of her soft hands next to his, her bright face and sweet smile. He fell asleep imagining designs he would carve in the bed he would build for them to share.
* * *
After hearing of Mary’s news, Joseph was heartbroken. His sleep had been restless and disturbed. He was confused and felt so alone. He tried to clear his head working extra hours in the family workshop. He gathered wood and began cutting various, small sized beams, smaller than he had ever cut and carved before. He wasn’t sure what he was making but he knew the idea would come to him, as it had in the past. Each spindle was a precise replica of the one before it.
Joseph finally fell into his bed exhausted and worn. He awoke suddenly and couldn’t tell if he was dreaming or not. An angel stood before him.
“Do not be afraid, Joseph,” said the angel.
He wasn’t afraid but he wasn’t sure what to think or how to respond.
“Mary is carrying the son of God. Marry her.”
Joseph felt a sense of peace and warmth surround his body. The same feeling he had when he imagined how his life would be with Mary.
He awoke the next morning feeling refreshed, different from the previous nights. The restlessness was gone now. He rushed past his mother, who was serving his father the morning meal and out the door toward the workshop.
“Joseph,” he didn’t hear his mother calling after him. “He has been in that workshop every day and night, this week,” she told his father.
“Well, he has a bed to build.” His father winked at his mother and laughed.Joseph saw the spindles lying on the work table where he had left them the night before and he knew. He could see what it would be when he finished. He began to assemble a cradle.