The Unexpected Visit

They arrived unannounced. It was not the best of times and we were in a mess. A lot to do, to think about. It was a fearful time and violence was in the air. We did not feel safe and any knock on the door could be the last …

We were here in obedience to the government’s edict but the powers that be were not on our side. We would not be afforded any special protection for being obedient to one set of rules if we were found to be guilty of another – even if the evidence was circumstantial.

The strangers hurried in and immediately I could sense something was not right. For one thing they weren’t locals. Their language and dress appeared eastern. What few words they spoke were difficult to understand – they seemed to prefer gestures; bowing and clapping in the main. It looked like some sort of happy adoration which I thought a contradiction but which they were completely at ease with.

The baby was awake and giggling at all this attention which only seemed to encourage them – and then they unpacked their gifts.

Nothing, apart from the birth of our son, could compare with what was revealed in our presence.

The purest gold, glinting in the semi-darkness, being offered by an aged, trembling hand and then laid at the baby’s feet. A moment’s silence as the visitors bowed low in reverence as if before a king.

Then, the unmistakable aroma of such a fragrance that sweetened the atmosphere – overcoming the smells of the travellers’ long and arid journey. One of them anointed the baby with some of the frankincense and then they all hummed some sort of lullaby or perhaps it was a prayer …

The last gift was similar but offered in silence and some sadness.

Myrrh, from the rich flow of a wounded thorn tree. It suggests pain and sorrow but brings comfort through its salving application. The silence continued for some time … even the baby made no sound.

Eventually,the visitors rose and prepared to leave as quickly as they had arrived. I saw them to the door wondering whether, and how, to thank them. The thought crossed my mind that perhaps we should ask if they would take us with them – escaping the fears of this place – but they left too quickly for me to suggest it. My fears were confirmed however when, later that night, I awoke with the intense compulsion to gather my family together and leave immediately …

So, once again, we became travellers, refugees from terror; carrying only what we had just been given.

Poor and despised in the minds of the rich and powerful we may have been – but we were confident that what we had was the most precious gift the world had never seen.