Some things need no voice. They are far too painful. Their trials leave more angst than reward. But we must press on. If we stop among the valleys, the mountains might move. Jesus talked about mountains moving once, but that’s getting ahead of the story.
My wife and I welcomed our first boy that year. He had eyes like doves by the water streams, cheeks full of spice, lips like lilies. My hands still remember holding him in all the amazement that a first child brings to a family.
Two years later in front of the very home that sheltered his mother and her contractions, that felt his first steps stampede its foundation with little feet and abundant life, that heard what we heard from our child’s mouth that day, “Why…daddy, why?” And in a bustle of curly black hair and cries that echoed in nowhere mountaintops, our baby disappeared. The men, ignorant in their evil, came and took him, killed him without blinking at the severity of their orders. Our neighbors, they also lost their baby. The synagogue reported many others, and we wept and mourned greatly.
Under the grief that rained upon us, so similar to our bondage of the legends past, glimmers of hope still blanketed the sky above. The stars still held their ground in the darkness. In fact, they seemed brighter, stronger, more willing to show why they stood at a distance.
Sister Mary, years later, told us about a night where a single star hovered over her and Joseph. She told of the shepherds and their arrival via orders from swooping angels. She then mentioned a dream of Joseph’s, one where another angel told him to flee. “Get out of Nazareth,” the angel said. “Herod is mad with conceit. He plans to kill your son – to kill all the young sons of Israel - because he thinks his kingdom is in danger. Take your family to Egypt. The journey is wide, but the irony is wider. Hide until I kill Herod himself.”
“Mary,” I said. “Our little David was one of those.” She fell silent.
With all the grace that flows from one who has surrendered to angels and dreams and miracles and God himself, she responded, “Nothing is impossible with God. May the peace that passes understanding rest on your shoulders tonight.” She held me and my wife a long time, weeping fresh tears that salted our dry ones.
The Psalms teach us that God prepares a table in the valleys of life to commune with us. Mary’s son did die. It took 33 years, but men took him away and killed him. Oh, but the breath that breathes as strong as God’s in the nostril of new Adams, brought a dead man to life, and with him, he redeemed many other taken lives that sprung from their sleeping.
So the spoils in the valley only have a hike to the peaks of transfiguration. So go. Go even though your burden runs deep. Go, because Sister Mary might be waiting with stories to tell, which change your loss into martyrdom. Go, because that baby who retreated to Egypt shut off the final plague – he plugged up death itself with his own life.