Personal Log of Gabriel, Messenger First Class, Trumpeter Second Class,
Advance Unit of the Assault Division, Armies of the God Who Is and Was and Is to Come (also known as the “Heavenly Host”)
Things went well with Mary, but we need to help keep her alive until the baby is born; in fact, longer than that would be good. And the Boss said this new baby shouldn’t be raised by a single mom—not in Galilee, not in in this era. Besides, we apparently need to let Joseph—the fiancé—know the whole truth about what is really going on. So, I got my orders for a third deployment.
I have to admit to being a bit nervous about this. Sure things went well with Mary, but they went lousy with Zechariah, and Joseph, like Zechariah, is a male human being. What if the stupid questions are some sort of testosterone thing? What’s even worse, Zechariah is a priest, supposedly trained to deal with the things of God. Joseph is a carpenter, a tradesman, used to dealing with concrete things, things he can put his hands on. How will he cope with something completely out of everybody’s experience, like, “Oh, yeah, your bride’s pregnant with the God’s Son”?
Fortunately, I get a little bit of discretion with this trip. Before Mary gets back from Judea, but I don’t have to show up in the workplace, like with Zechariah, and the Boss didn’t say anything about time of day. When one sees a loophole—well, unless it involves breaking the Law—one should call it grace and take the initiative.
I come to Joseph in the night, while he is sleeping. The vast majority of humans do precious little talking while they sleep. There are exceptions, of course, though the sleeping speech doesn’t seem to have any more point to it than their waking speech. Too many humans talk for the sake of hearing themselves talk, and some continue to do so when they aren’t even listening to themselves. But those are relatively rare cases: only about five percent of all human adults.
Grateful when I discover that Joseph isn’t one of those, I decide that I can slip right into his subconscious thoughts, a vision that he will think is part of his dreams. As I said, better not to give him a chance to talk at all.
Well, it works. I get to tell him everything that is going on. I get to tell him that everything he had hoped that he and Mary would do for the first time together wasn’t going to happen the way he expected. They wouldn’t expect their first child together—oh, he would be brave enough and smart enough and faithful enough to take this baby as his own, and to treat it as his own. But things will never quite be the same. He won’t be able to name his first son—who isn’t really his first son, not quite—after him. The boy will be named after the Boss: “God Saves” and/or “God-With-Us.” He will spend his life knowing that, in the end, this first Son may learn the family trade but, ultimately, he will abandon the family business.
I have to tell him all of this, and I don’t even get to say, “I’m sorry.”
But I am sorry. I’m sorry that this noble, kind man will now become a bit player in his own life, that he will be remembered as the ceramic figurine standing in a fake barn behind what everybody thinks are the important characters in the story.
Maybe I don’t really want him asking any questions because I don’t want to have to say all those sorries. Maybe I don’t want to tell him all of the truth, just the part that he has to know. Inside his dream, as a vision, maybe I can just do that . . . even with these ridiculous wings.
The funny thing is, I think he kind of knows, somehow. If he doesn’t know now, then he must be getting it by the time I see him in another dream, to tell him he and his little family have to run for their lives, or the one a few years later, when I tell him he can stop living in exile.
I said before that the world of this time is full of Josephs and Marys, that he is nothing special.
And yet he is. He is special enough to set aside his whole life and not be the hero. Sometimes, working for the Boss is like this. I am so glad he is up to it.
And I am sorry that he has to be.