They were a different kind of strangeness. Nothing at all supernatural, just completely out of place, weird. I could see at once by their dress they were rich, important. They had arrived in the little town the day before, and I had not really associated them with – with my son. Not the right kind of strange.
But they found us. I had not really taken on board that there was still TALK though not as bad as at Nazareth, or at least, in the main part different talk. Less about my honour. They came through the doorway, filling the room with, with…
I was, I was out of my depth. Of course I was older, rising seventeen, but still. One, the woman, had a pair of servants stood behind her, watchful. She laid down embalming spices at my son’s feet. I wish my Greek was better, not just a matter of formal sentences useful for speaking to the Occupying Force. She spoke to me of death, his death, and I tried to say to her that he was healthy, and that people should try hard to be healthy and happy while they are alive, not sad and guilty. At least, that is what I thought she said, and is what I think I tried to say. I have never believed in guilt.
The next was a Persian. His Greek was very good, very good indeed. He spoke of God’s favour being on my son, of him being appointed by God. This made some kind of sense, and somehow I managed to find words back, about his being right. I tried to speak of his being right and of his understanding of the world. He gave him incense. I hope I understood him to say that this was to be used in worship, though we are not a priestly family. It would never be right to worship a human being, surely.
The last was a huge Ethiopian. He laid glittering gold at my son’s feet. I struggled to decode his words, through the accent. I thought he spoke of kings. I thought he spoke of danger, and the need to escape. I know he spoke of Herod. The word chilled me. I think I spoke of the dangers of kings and power – well I guess I would, that sounds like me.
I hope what I said to them was enough, I hope what they found had made some kind of recompense for what … but I wished they had not spoken of Herod.They left a king’s ransom around my feet. Joseph came home and we talked in growing unease.