Tuesday, December 8, 2009
My name is Caminerus and I proudly declare that I am the most sought-after errand boy here in Nazareth. I clean every mess left by carpenters and blacksmiths in their workshops every weekend and oftentimes, I work as a street sweeper for a dime or two. But there are also times that I accompany residents when they travel to other districts to tend their belongings and merchandize including their asses,- I mean, donkeys. That’s what I do in the last fifteen years of my life.
But I am also a dreamer. I dream someday I'll find my place in Rome, the capital of civilization. Or in Alexandria, the grain and food capital,- even only, let us say, as a warehouse apprentice. Forget about Athens, the cultural center or Corinth, the great university city. We, people of Nazareth, at least in the eyes of those who do not live here, do not belong in those known places. But I am proud I lived in this small provincial town, so irrelevant that people summed it up contemptuously in a single query : “Can anything of good come from Nazareth? Poor Nazareth!”
I am not only the errand boy of Nazareth. I am Nazareth. Without fame, with no natural advantage or historic association and cultural background or prestige and a lowly peasant city in the eyes of the civilized and modern world. Like me, Nazareth is just a “yokel” town a people of Jerusalem, the holy city of worship, would call it.
But I have a confession to make about a horrible incident that caused me goose bumps until this very hour. The incident happened last night inside the kitchen of the elderly couple named Joachim and Anne when I was cleaning their neighbor’s animal barn. I saw a winged man from the sky zoomed into the place like a lightning and immediately appeared in front of Mary who was then washing dinner plates and wiping oil from her hands. The winged creature’s voice sounds like thunder. But sweet little Mary seems not afraid of the birdman and they started a conversation. At a very tender age, she had the advantage of staying at the temple as a cleaner. Perhaps, her exposure to the truth and beauty of the Scripture made her fearless. Unlike Mary, I am a damn coward so I ran away.
Curiously, I went to see her the next morning and to my surprise, it seems that nothing unusual happened. I want to ask her about the last night’s incident but I don’t know what’s stopping me. “Someday, if I had a chance, I am going to find out.” I told my self. “If you had the courage.” My conscience said in return.
But that moment suddenly came. I met the old man Joachim at the tavern offering me another escorting job. He asked me to accompany her daughter and their close family friend Joseph, the best carpenter in town. She’s going to visit her elderly cousin Elizabeth and her husband Zachary in Hebron. It was not convenient for Mary to travel alone. It was certainly an uphill task for Joseph and Mary so they need an escort or a bodyguard of sort. And that’s me, your friendly neighborhood errand boy, the Amazing Camenirus. “It’s a deal!”, I told the bearded old man.
While on our road to Hebron, Joseph told me that we will at once return to Nazareth not only because of his works but for Mary to stay with her cousin who is six months pregnant. Elizabeth needed a helping hand for she would no longer be able to go and draw water from the village well or to look after the crops in the field and the animals in the farm. She would no longer be able to go to the market to do her shopping. Mary will stay in Zachary’s house for three months until Elizabeth ‘s baby is due. Joseph will be coming back after three months and fetch Mary.
Though I never had the courage to ask Mary about the winged man who appeared in their kitchen, but knowing her as a child who grew before my very eyes, I know that she is deeply aware of her low position in society which had been elevated by a blessing from the Lord that all generations would recognize. She is a humble maid. She connected her own experience that God is now helping His servant Israel, since He had scattered the proud and put down the mighty while exalted those of low degree and filled the hungry with good things. That’s how I put into one capsule the things we have discussed while traveling the lonely and dangerous road from Galilee to the hills of Judea.
But there’s one thing I’ve noticed about Joseph for most of the time he's been so silent. I presume that something is bothering him. Hope that winged man from the skies would ease all Joseph’s tormenting doubts. Caminerus’ surefire hunch is telling him that the winged man will soon appear before Joseph or even only in his dream.
The reunion of Mary and Elizabeth only taught me one thing : we ought to give the gift of our very presence and this is the hardest and the best gift of all. Everybody needs encouragement. Everybody needs the interior peace and joy that comes from the Holy Spirit. This is what Mary's visit did for Elizabeth. Mary's visit was an inspiration to Elizabeth.
This was the inspiration I learned from my recent travel or adventure. And at the break of dawn, Joseph and I travelled back to Nazareth who surely missed the presence of the Amazing Caminerus. I am Nazareth, remember? ...
(NB: Another fiction try.- NAN. Photo from http://www.brigidmarlin.com.)