When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt.
It was the same warm light that drove out the darkness in their little room. Joseph had come in and found Mary asleep with Jesus on His little mat. Exhausted, he fell into the bed, not bothering to wake her where she slept so peacefully, curled around their son.
“Joseph,” a voice breaks through his dreams, urgent, yet kind.
Joseph turns over, pulling his blanket tighter, and curls around the space where Mary should be. He forgets for a moment that she’s asleep with Jesus, then returns to sleep.
Down, down, down, he reaches for rest, when the voice repeats his name–this time more urgent, a plea.
That’s when Joseph notices the light. That warm light.
It fills his mind, his room, falls on the bed, the walls, the universe.
He can’t sit up. He may be asleep or awake. It doesn’t matter, because Joseph knows the man who stands before him. The angel who first advised him to take Mary as his wife. The angel who delivered the most important message Joseph would ever hear. It seems like a lifetime ago, but here he is again.
“Joseph,” the angel speaks softly, but his voice fills all the space around them. “Herod is coming for Jesus and will kill Him. Get up and take Him and His mother to Egypt. Stay there until I give word that it’s safe.”
“Egypt?” Joseph tries to speak, but the angel is gone. It’s just him in the empty bed, and he can just see Mary and Jesus in the now-dark room.
It takes only seconds to reach her side. His knees just touch her side as he strokes her hair. When she shifts, sliding one eye open, he whispers.
“Mary, Mary, we have to leave here. Now. Get your things. I’ll explain on the way.
“An angel visited me, Mary. Herod will come to destroy Jesus. He won’t let Him live. We must leave now! We go to Egypt. Tonight.”
Mary is speechless. She looks frantically for her son, but he’s still sleeping soundly at her side.
“Mary, gather your things,” her husband says, as he begins to stuff supplies into a sack.
Mary is up and surveying the room, their things. She looks to the baskets of creations Joseph has made for their boy, at their store of food, the home they’ve made here.
Sighing, Mary looks away from all her dear things, and half-runs into the pantry, gathering all she can in a few short minutes. For Joseph appears in the doorway.
“Duncan the Donkey is ready for another journey,” he says, lips curving up in a weak attempt at a smile. Worry, clouds his face.
“Then, let’s not keep him waiting,” Mary smiles back.
She scoops Jesus up, wrapping the mat around his body, and hands Him to Joseph. He straps the boy into a wooden frame fashioned for dragging behind the donkey. On the sides of the animal, and tied next to Jesus are bundles of supplies to carry with them to Egypt.
Checking the leather straps and cords of fabric, Joseph pulls something from one of the packs and hands it to Mary.
It’s a small figure of an animal, carved from a soft wood, and sanded smooth–a piece of their home in Bethlehem.
“Thank you, husband.” She smiles.
He takes her hand, and their feet crunch in the night-silence around them.
“To Egypt.” Joseph says to his wife.