by Kelly Bunch
I didn’t want to come. My two brothers Melchior and Belshazzar were joyously throwing all of our belongings into saddle bags. Questions ringing about which tools they would need, how many camels should they bring, which servants, what food. Endless ringing questions. I sat on my cushions and watched the chaos as they ran back and forth. Periodically one or the other would come to me to ask my opinion or worse to ask me to join. I just shook my head no and continued to eat my figs. I had not anticipated that my discovery regarding the timing of the star would lead to this ridiculous crusade. “It’s a star,” I said, “we could see it just as easily here as we could there.” And yet they continued to scurry like vermin exposed to the light.
Soon the time came for their departure. It was only at the sight of them riding out on their camels that I had a strange sensation, one I could hardly put words to even now. It was like a still small voice calling to me, “Don’t miss out. This quest will yield great profit beyond what you can imagine. Don’t miss it. Come.” I shook my head at the voice as I had done to my brothers but it refused to be silenced. I didn’t want to miss out on something wondrous. What had we been doing all these years looking to the stars if we weren’t trying to find that very thing? Ugh, months on a camel.
My flurry of activity was unmatched by either of my brothers as I packed in half the time. I still could not believe what I was doing. My fortunate brothers were so swept up that I doubt they even noticed the arid winds sweeping through the desert, sand getting into everything, and days of riding uncomfortably on the back of a camel. But I would feel and notice it all and I was not looking forward to it. What could possibly be worth all of this trouble?
Finally I was ready. Saddles packed, camels loaded, home forgotten, I met the road with weary anticipation. I journeyed for days alone which made them seem endless. I reached my brothers near twilight on the fourth day. I could not quite explain the reason for my change of mind, and would rather be buried right there in the sand then tell them I was hearing voices. So I made up some excuse about some necessary item they had forgotten and needing to watch out for them because it was certain that they would be an easy target for desert thieves. They welcomed me humbly and excitedly pretending like I had been with them all the time.
Sand. Did I mention sand gets everywhere? You ride all day on the back of a camel, wind blowing in your face and sand in your eyes, nose and mouth. You stop for a water break and wipe the sand off the water skins before drinking. You take a meal and have to shake the sand out of the food. You remove your turban and find a line of dirt across your forehead and sand in your hair. It’s disgusting. Obviously, sand is not my favorite thing.
Camels, likewise are not the tidiest and most beautiful of creatures. They spit and smell terrible and are not genuinely easy on the eyes. And if you’ve ever spent any long amount of time on horseback just know that that is nowhere near as bad as sitting for days on end on the back of a camel. Soon you start to smell like camel and the scent does not easily wash off.
Days turned to weeks, weeks into months as we covered the desert with tracks soon erased. One day we looked up and there was the star shining brighter and more gloriously than we had ever seen. My brothers agreed that something amazing must have happened and despaired. Did we waste our time and energy crossing this vast sandy sea only to miss the event we had been waiting for? My brothers considered turning around and going home. “No,” I said, “We did not spend months traveling this distance to go home without finishing the journey. Maybe we didn’t see everything but we are certainly not going home without seeing something. I want to be able to look up and see the star directly overhead, no matter what else is around it.” We continued on.
We finally entered Jerusalem and were welcomed into the court of King Herod. The cushions felt welcome beneath us and there was glorious food that was sand free. Yet, I had this worrisome feeling as if there was more to Herod than met the eye. He had asked us of our mission, and I tried to catch my brothers’ eyes to warn against answering but of course they just barreled straight into it. “We are looking for the one born King of the Jews. We follow his star.” Why not just ask Herod to kill us right out? I would have to explain to them later that you don’t tell a king that you’re looking for a replacement king. He seemed to take the news in stride however and told us to find the location of the king and come back to tell him that he may worship him too. As it was unlikely that we would find the child anyways it seemed harmless to tell him we would.
It was now at least a dozen days since we had seen the star at its brightest and at last we had almost come upon it. Twilight was setting in and the star was finding its light shining over a little house in a small village. We were greeted almost at once by the mother and father of the child. They were unsurprised by our visit and obviously knew the great worth of the child. I was still rather unconvinced until I saw him. At seeing his face, the long and weary journey was almost wiped completely from memory. Peace and joy inexpressible settled within me and I did not want to ever be moved from his presence. My brothers moved to the saddle bags and pulled out their gifts of gold and frankincense to crown him kind and high priest. Now seeing him I was loathe to bring my gift of myrrh that signified the ultimate sacrifice. I could not imagine such a pure being slain. And yet, I was comforted in my sorrow by his sweet peace. He was worth the wait and the toil and the long wearying months. Hope in human form, the Christ