17. December 6th- The Feast-day of Santa Claus

 I quietly slipped away from Plymouth and Phineas leaving the Pilgrims to their strenuous but faithful lives. There were many more angels helping them there than I had seen anywhere else, even in heaven, so I knew I was leaving them in good hands to build new lives for themselves and a brand new country.

I knew exactly where to go next in the Bride's year and I could not wait another minute to get started. Alone and unafraid I headed up to the North Pole to visit Santa Claus whose feast day is on December 6th. I had so many questions to ask him. I wondered how this one saint among the thousands of disciples of Jesus could have gained such fame, even among the heathen. I wanted to know why he was associated so closely with the incarnation, and if he received half as many thank you notes as he did letters of request.

So off I went north past Maine, through Canada and westward to North Pole, Alaska. When I landed I went right into a church looking for angels who might know where to find Saint Nick. The church was empty so I went back out into the streets. People were few and far between in North Pole.

Suddenly, a tall frozen angel scared me when he shouted, "Can I help you?"

"Oh! I replied, I thought you were a statue! You frightened me!"

"What are you doing here?"

"I'm looking for Santa Claus."

He replied, "Santa Claus lives in the real North Pole; this is Alaska. Go north 30 degrees and west 20 degrees. Look for the red building; you can't miss it. Farewell!"

"Thank you!" and off I went over white mountains and across glaciers.

It was easy to spot the bright red building nestled in a valley of freshly fallen snow. There appeared to be two chimneys jutting out of the red metal roof, one with a steady stream of smoke and the other with a spotlight beaming out from it, as if Santa lived in a lighthouse.

I entered to find a red cheeked old man with long white whiskers and white hair wearing a fleecy red gown trimmed in white fur sitting by a fire. His eyes were closed. He appeared to be alternating between praying and listening. After a few minutes, he sensed my presence and opened his eyes.

"May I help you? he asked.

"Santa, " I replied cautiously for fear of interrupting him, "I am traveling on the flat circle of The Church year to learn how time and matter can be holy. May I talk with you on this, your feast day? I know how busy you are, so I promise to keep it brief."

Santa's face lit up. As a man who lives to be of service to others, he relished the opportunity to help me. Old Saint Nick immediately stood up, fetched a nearby rocker and carefully placed it beside his near the blazing hearth. Then he sat himself down, and with bright cheerful green eyes said, "Let's talk."

Jumping right in with my questions, I asked, "Santa, why do you live in this frozen barren place instead of in heaven where most of the other saints go to live?"

"The people have put me in the North Pole, so this is where I stay. I have grown to like it here very much, it is like being in the desert. Actually the desert fathers come to visit me from time to time. Anthony was here just last week. It reminds them of the olden days. By living here instead of in heaven, I have the best of both worlds. I am near the people I want to bless, but still I am invisible since no one comes here. Perhaps our Lord told the people to assign me to the North Pole." With that Santa seemed to drift into a memory which I interrupted by asking,

"Do you make toys?"

"Yes, in a sense I do. I pray child by child that he or she will receive whatever their hearts desire. Often their angels." Santa paused briefly to look at me, wondering why I wasn't guarding anyone, "send me messages of what they want or need, and then I get to work praying that someone, a parent or an uncle will give them whatever it is. You see, for a child to receive the gift of what they want is the first step to showing them that God can answer their prayers."

"Do you have a wife and elves?"

"The Lord has sent me many many helpers to bring me children's wishes and to send my prayers to those who can fulfill them. A tremendous amount of research goes into my job. My wife manages the elves and they all live in the building down the way. They know I must be alone to do my job properly, and they must live in community to do theirs. We worship together twice a day."

"Can you tell me why, of all the saints who ever lived, why you are the most famous, and why you are tied to Christmastime?"

With this question Santa seemed to drift farther into a very distant memory. He was quiet for some time, forcing me to practice patience. Finally he said, "When I lived among the people I was a most fervent defender of the faith. You see, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, appeared to me at a young age. He became my best friend. Even as I grew into an old man with much responsibility, I never lost the Friend of my youth. It never mattered to me that Christ was invisible because He revealed himself to me in many very real ways: guidance and healing and by answering my prayers.

During my days as archbishop of Myra, I was asked to attend a council because there had been many far flung opinions about who Jesus Christ was. Some said that He was more human than divine, and others said He was more divine than human. Obviously, those people didn't know Him as I did. He once told me that because He is Perfectly human, He is divine. He said that mankind lost its divinity, its image of God, when Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He said that He wanted to help us become fully human, so we too could be fully divine again.

There was one man, a fellow named Arias who irritated me to no end. He was so cocky and so wrong. It was as if he thought he could make Jesus into whoever he wanted him to be without any regard for the truth. I despised him for spreading lies about my best Friend, and gathering a clan of fellow misbelievers with him.

He tried to validate his opinion with votes as if the truth was powerless against majority rule!"

I could see Santa's face getting redder and redder. "These people didn't know Christ, my Lord!" ! I became so angry with his lame arguments that I punched Arias in the face right then and there, on the floor of the council! He fell of course which quieted him down, and I walked away to brood and let the others revive him.

Jesus Christ as His Holy Spirit, and my Best Friend, came to help me. I was surprised that He was so pleased with me. Jesus knew then and there how much I loved Him and that He could trust me to be His friend forever. To console me, He promised to find a way to thank me for defending Him.

I went about my business without a second thought about that incident, doing what I loved to do the most, which was to give gifts to young and old, when it occurred to me that I could never give a better gift than God did when He sent us His only begotten Son to earth to restore the relationship of humankind to our Creator and Father, and to make us divine too. Since that day, I have tried to be like my Best Friend by giving of myself, and giving everything I can.

The season of giving naturally linked me to the true gift giver, our Father. I have wondered if my fame is His reward for defending Him against Arias. The reward is the opportunity to bring joy to children as a little step toward their personal revelation of the gift of Christ."

"You really are such a jolly old chap. Don't you ever get sad?" I asked.

"Yes, my angelic friend, I do." he replied, "The saddest thing for me is that unbelievers tell the children I am not real. How can they say that? Surely only the most blind and dumb could think that I am not as alive and real as anyone they can touch!"

I thought Saint Nicholas had a very good point. He certainly looked alive to me. I was sorry for reminding him of his pain, so I added, "Santa Claus?"

"Yes, my friend." He said.

"I can help you transport your prayers for the children's gifts this Christmas. There must be quite a lot to do. Where do I begin?"

Santa smiled warmly and with his sparkling eyes full of love and grace responded, "Oh my dear friend, you have a mission of your own. Continue on your journey to the manger. My elves will help me. Thank you for stopping by. Peace be with you, now be off, I must get back to my work, only 19 more days to go. Shoo!"

18. Flying to Christmas

I must admit that I wasn't very disappointed that Santa Claus rejected my offer to help him, nor was I sorry to leave the North Pole. Of the many kinds of matter that I have been exposed to on this planet, snow is my least favorite. It confuses me the way it can change shape and melts. It comes and goes, and when it falls from the sky, I can hardly fly. Of all the things I have come to accept about matter, I like its stability best; then there is snow to confound that!

Flying south through a snowstorm, I headed to Bethlehem for the birth day of God as human. Before I met Jesus I thought God's incarnation-project was thoroughly ludicrous. Yet, Jesus makes God appear more friendly and personal, which was shocking at first, but I am getting use to it. Actually, Jesus has also helped me to accept the concept of humanity. These strange beings are shaped like creatures but have the hearts and minds of God. Only God could come up with something as clever and amazing as combining Himself with the characteristics of an animal.

That concept, when He made Adam and Eve in His image and likeness was fantastic enough, but to place His very own genes in a human woman, for God to become born of humankind, is light-years beyond amazing. No words can describe such condescension. Could the sun be concentrated into a pinhead? Could Empress Catherine scrub bathrooms? It is no wonder at all that the Jews have thought Jesus was a blasphemy. I would agree with them if I hadn't known God to be just this creative.

I'll wager that being at the scene of Christ's birth will be as thrilling as sitting on a shooting star. I must make sure that I arrive on time.

Traveling down the spiral of time and around the planet simultaneously takes skill that I still haven't mastered. In fact, these currents are a little too choppy for me, whoa! Look! there is a flock of angels.

"Who are you? And where are you going?" I sent telepathically as they came in range.

The lead angel said, "We are going to attend the conception of the Virgin Mary, wanna join us?"

I replied, "Frankly that sounds a little awkward. Don't you think Joachim and Anna want some privacy? I am not going, but thanks for asking; bye!"

After the angels zipped past me, I managed to hop on a current of air and surfed it across half the Atlantic Ocean, and from 2013 AD Nova Scotia to Gaul in 110 AD. I was having so much fun that I nearly forgot about my mission and my deadlines and flew in circles and then through my circles until the sky became very dark and ominous.

You already know how much I love the darkness. This particular night was pitch black. I settled down to get back on track and adjusted my sonar to locate the manger in Bethlehem 0 AD. I was actually having a little trouble, wondering how I would find the right barn when I looked up to notice an extraordinarily bright, but lonely star. As I was gazing on its brightness I noticed that the star was careening straight towards me!

Angels don't get scared. We have nothing to be afraid of; we aren't afraid of poverty or accidents, we can't get sick or be killed. Life is pretty safe for us. The only thing that matters for us is whether we are angels of God, or those fallen demon angels that are always making trouble.

As I said, angels don't get scared, so as that star came closer, my feelings startled me even more than the ball itself. I couldn't tell if it was going to enter into me or just point the way to Bethlehem. As I look back, I suppose confusion was the source of my fear. This startling situation reawakened me to my mission. I realized that my fun flying had been something of a respite, but also a distraction. I tried to calm down by flying slower, hoping that perhaps my imaginings were in vain and that the star would pass me.

Just as I was preparing myself to succumb to destruction by starlight, suddenly, behind the star there appeared my old friend Gabriel.

"Gabriel, what are you doing! You nearly frightened my wings off!" I exclaimed. "What are you doing with that star?"

"This is not a star, it is more than that. Come with me, I will take you to Bethlehem and show you what this light can do. Besides, I need your help."

With that Gabriel careened ahead of me, and I took off to keep up with him and his super-light.

Our flight was just long enough to give me time to recover from fear. It was a bonus to not have to navigate.

"Look," said Gabriel, "See those men over there," pointing to four very well dressed distinguished looking bearded men deeply immersed in conversation. "Join them and get them to follow this light. Tell them that a great king of the Jews will be born; tell them that you saw his star in the sky."

Being relatively new to earth and humans, I hadn't yet learned how to work with them. As you know I am no guardian angel. Being thrust into this moment was both an honor and a threat. I was accustomed to communicating telepathically with other angels, but angels are receptive, humans seems so oblivious.

I wafted myself near the group of men and looked up at Gabriel for approval and directions.

"Good, now simply say what you want them to think. They will pick it up telepathically. Watch this:"

"Look at that star Balthazar! I have never seen a star so low and so bright, what could it mean?"

Balthazar, a learned astrologer, well trained and experienced was perplexed.

Melchior the elder, a theologian and philosopher said, "What an amazing coincidence. At the last quarter moon I found myself in the presence of the Hebrew scripture. It appears from my reading that a king of the Jews will be born; let us go to Jerusalem to find Him and pay homage to him."

"Let's take him gifts." chimed in Gaspar.

"What should we give to this Jewish king?" added Faisal.

"I have some gold!" Gaspar offered.

"Perfect. What else? Melchior," Balthazar added, "what can you bring?"

"I have a small jar of myrrh. It is very precious, made by my grandfather. I will bring that to the king." Melchior felt proud that he had something of great value to offer.

"Yes, the oil of anointing. Good, bring it."

"Now for me, what can I bring? I know! Frankincense! Gold, frankincense and myrrh, it has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?"

"And you Faisal, what will you offer?"

Faisal looked sullen. "I can't go, my wives would have fits, and there are the twenty children to discipline. You go on without me. I will pray for your safe journey."

Enthused by the thought of a long journey to meet a newborn king, Balthazar was anxious to get started. "Okay, let's get ready. There is no time to waste, we don't know how long the star will wait for us. Faisal, you can be of great help. Here is a bell, if the star moves, follow it. We will go to say good bye to our families and pack for the journey. Keep ringing the bell as loud as you can. When we return, we will find you. Then you may go home to your wives and small army."

As the wise men were dispersing, I looked up at Gabriel and smiled. "That was very impressive Gabe, now what exactly did you need me to do?"

19. Three Wise Fools and Me

Gabriel confessed. "I'm sorry, I got carried away. I do have a job for you, a very important one. I need you to take this star to the manger for me. You will lead the magi while I go on ahead. Don't go too fast, especially while Faisal is following you and the men are packing."

"Gabriel, uh...where is this manger?" I replied.

"Go to 31.704274° N, and 35.207330° E , you can't miss it." With that Gabriel tossed me the star-like object and flew off as if leaving me with the children. I didn't even have a chance to say good bye or to complain.

I hovered there awkwardly holding the star and scouring the horizon in vain for Gabriel. Then I looked down at Faisal staring up at my star. Of all the craziness I have experienced on this planet, this moment could win the award for the most absurd.

I wondered how Gabriel found these Persians and managed to convince them to go on such a long and dangerous journey, and why?

Why would they want to pay homage to an infant so far away? What good could a baby do for them? He isn't ever going to reign over them. These Persians are barbarians who have nothing in common with Jews. How in the world did Gabriel convince them to leave home and family and friends to subject themselves to another kingdom?

I wondered what they will think when they find out that I am taking them to a barn. I wonder if they will still turn over their gifts. Then it occurred to me that possibly these men make a habit of going around the world worshipping every poor sop they think will be a king some day. How could anyone call these Wise Men? They are more like fools. Then I came to my senses.

Perhaps I was the fool. Haven't I learned by now to let God do whatever deranged thing He wants to do, and wait to watch it become absolutely brilliant.

I woke up from my daydream to look down and see Faisal still staring up at my star with his mouth wide open. I thought I should try to get him out of his trance so I moved ever so slowly southwest. Sure enough, he moved with me! Then I decided to have a little fun and went east for a mile and then west, then back toward where we began. hahaha. This could be entertaining, except that listening to his loud bell ringing began to grate on me. So I stopped teasing him.

Finally Balthazar showed up. Faisal quickly handed over the bell, and bid him fare well explaining that the wives would worry about him being gone so long.

Soon after, Gaspar, then Melchior found Balthazar ringing the bell. Typically, on long journeys such as this one, I had seen servants form a traveling entourage, but with not this group. These three men were on their own, bringing nothing but their camels and a few satchels.

Being as anxious to arrive as they were, I calculated the shortest route and headed straight there. Having to go so slow was maddening. But it explained why The Lord allowed me to have my fling the other day. This slow and steady march to Bethlehem was unusually quiet. Balthazar, Gaspar and Melchior, simply headed wherever the star and I lead them.

Remembering that humans must eat and sleep, they stopped from time to time and I stopped too. For the first few days, they took turns sleeping while their camels walked and another held the lead. I taught them that I would stop for 6 hours every night. That was maddening too. How I wanted to take a break as well and fly my somersaults, but I didn't know where to put my star, and didn't want to create a frightening light show. Soon, the three kings learned that the star would let them sleep. How I wish I could have swooped them up and flown them to Bethlehem.

One day I overheard them talking, "Balthazar," said Melchior "how does your astrology tell you that the star is taking us to an infant king?"

"It doesn't!" replied Balthazar indignantly. "Stars don't tell you who is born, but from the hour when man is born what will befall him."

"I thought this was your idea. How did we come to this?"

Gaspar chimed in. "Be still, my friends. Haven't you noticed, that this is not a star anyway? Stars don't shine during the day, and we can see it clearly, day and night. When we move, it moves and when we stop, it stops. My friends, Ahura Masda, our god of truth and light spoke to me in a dream; he is guiding us and we will soon see our reward."

Silence followed for quite some time as the men walked and rode their camels and as I, carrying the star, moved ever so slowly across plains and over the mountains. I felt so sorry for the men and animals. It was such a difficult journey and their food was sparse. I wondered what kind of determination would drive these men to continue their struggle. Then I looked at my star. It glowed even brighter in the daylight than in the night, with such a warm and alluring light, that I imagined it calling them to follow and to endure.

After what seemed to me to be centuries later, we arrived in Jerusalem where I spotted Gabriel.

He saw us and with great cheer in his voice said, "Welcome! You made it! Congratulations, I wasn't sure you would. How was the journey?"

It really is too bad that one can't slug an angel. Well, you can try but it won't do any good. It would go right through him. The first thing I did though was to toss the star to him.

He caught it easily and said, "Let's go, I have a reward for you!"

"What!!!" I replied. "We aren't even in Bethlehem yet! This is Jerusalem."

"Yes, yes I know that." answered Gabriel who blew on the star and extinguished it! "Let's leave these men for a while. I have assigned another angel to take them to King Herod, to rouse him up against the infant Jesus. Don't worry, it's all part of the plan."

Angels don't cry either. But I never wanted more to be able to do so. After that long, grueling and dusty journey, to suddenly be called away....in order to jeopardize the life of my soon to be born Lord-God was the most flabbergasting thing I could imagine.

Angels know this. Hierarchy establishes order, and obedience is the first rule of hierarchy. I know that. I also know that if I am patient and trust God, every confusing thing will become clear. So with all my emotional strength I took a few flying flings through the air and returned to Gabriel who waited for me. Before leaving, I looked down at my men fondly. This was the first time I had ever come close to being a guardian angel. I would miss them.

"Stop fretting, you'll be back. Come on, let's go. There's no time to waste! Christ is about to be born and I have one more assignment for you! In a brief moment of disobedience, I returned to my men and wafted my way through them, hoping to bless them with the wisdom they would surely need when they meet Herod.

"Gabriel, please tell me why I had to bring these men all the way from Persia to Jerusalem. It was such a grueling journey for all of us. I think I deserve to know."

Gabriel responded compassionately, "You are right, I will tell you. The Jews, are a bull headed rebellious people who rarely believe their own prophets. Why God cherishes them so I will never understand, but He clearly does. For the same reason that they killed their prophets and from time to time went off worshipping idols, God knows they would never believe the Christ Child, their Messiah, is born in a manger.

For this momentous occasion God is bringing people from outside of the tribes of His beloved Israel to testify to the birth of the Messiah. From His very birth Christ is calling Gentiles to worship the one true God.This is the reason my angelic friend. Now that doesn't seem so foolish does it? God made His point clear and universal by bringing in the unfamiliar, ignorant barbarians to be wiser than His own chosen people. He will always confound the wise, because He is infinitely smarter than they. Just as the sun comes from the east to illuminate the world, so God brought the wise men from the east to bring Holy Wisdom to His people, Israel. Those who have ears will hear, and those who have eyes will see."

See! God did it again!!!!! He made me, the most cynical angel this side of the great divide, feel foolish. I wonder what the reward is that Gabriel said he has for me.

Taken from Homilies on Matthew, by Saint John Chrysostom. Erdemens Press.

20. December 25th - Christmas Day

The night sky was clear and chock full of stars, way up high and far away where they belong. Gabriel slowed down to a hover and turned to wait for me to catch up.

"Now what?" I said, still perturbed that I had to abandon my three wise men to follow Gabriel to Bethlehem.

"Do you see those shepherds down there tending their flock of sheep?" Gabriel asked.

"Yes." I replied feeling a slight kinship with those night workers.

"Your reward for making that painfully slow journey from Persia to Palestine will be to assist me in announcing to them the birth of the Christ that is occurring at this very moment."

"Are you telling me that these smelly uncouth sheep herders, and not my three kings of orient who have climbed mountains and crossed deserts to come here, will be the first to see the newborn babe? After all we went through!"

"Peace brother," replied Gabriel trying to calm me down. "This is the way The Lord wants it. We just take orders. Remember, the royal great-grandfather, King David, was a 'sheep-herder'. It is fitting that a Jew, a son of David, be the first to greet God as man." (Gabriel had a way about him that both reduced me to spittle and elevated me to the highest heavens.)

"Besides," he added, "Jesus is coming to shepherd the sons of Israel. It is important for our Lord, that the Jews come first, and then the Gentiles may follow with their faith and gifts. When will you learn, my angelic friend, to trust God and stop whining?"

With that Gabriel turned to fly down to the shepherds and of course I meekly followed. When we got closer I saw hundreds of still and prayerful angels quietly hovering around the oblivious shepherds.

Suddenly, in a blink of an eye, and without warning, Gabriel turned a dazzling spotlight on me! I looked at the shepherds who were as shocked and amazed as was I because I noticed that they could see me! What a thrill. This had never happened to me before.

It was as if God let me feel the joy that He was about to experience by walking among men with a human form.

After a few moments, while I gave the shepherds, and myself, time to recover from the shock, and with all the sound of authority I could muster I voiced the words that Gabriel was sending me telepathically.

We said, "Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger."

To make my announcement all the more phenomenal the hundreds of angels surrounding them also became visible like me. Gabriel, invisible, conducted them in the chant, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to His people on earth.’

After the big display, one by one the angels flew back up to heaven to await further instructions.

I could feel myself disappearing again, and I was sorry to see me go. But I could tell that our mission had been accomplished when I heard the shepherds say to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us."

Gabriel and I went with them across several fields (with the sheep) until we finally reached Bethlehem. Gabriel knew exactly where to go and seemed to be guiding the shepherds telepathically.

When we arrived at the manger, a sensation of elation gripped me. Could this be the moment I had worked for all these weeks? I felt sorry that my magi weren't present for this glorious moment, and wondered how they were getting along without me and the star.

The shepherds who were emboldened by my appearance and message seemed to know exactly where to go. When they arrived at the manger, because it had no door, they immediately saw the Infant lying there in swaddling clothes. They straightaway approached Joseph and introduced themselves. Joseph greeted the men warmly with tear stained eyes and a sweaty brow.

One of the shepherds said, "I am sorry for disturbing you, but we were in the field tending our flock when a massive light appeared from the east and before us stood an angel who announced the birth of the Messiah! Then suddenly hundreds of angels chanted Glory to the Most high God, and peace to His people on earth. Is this infant, your son who is lying there, the Messiah come to save God's people and restore eternal life?"

Joseph ushered them over to see the newborn babe wrapped in swaddling cloths laying on a bed of straw, sleeping soundly.

The newborn babe's mother, Mary looked up curiously. She was radiant, having just given birth. Joseph said, "Mary, these men have come from the fields where angels told them of the birth of your Son, and called Him the Messiah! Did you hear what they said? I am amazed!"

Mary shot a Mona Lisa smile at the shepherds, slightly perplexed by what had occurred. She wasn't at all sure of how much people should know about her Son, and when they should know it, and how she should respond. She had no idea of what to expect.

Before the shepherds left, Gabriel called to me and said, "Come, we have to get back to your magi, let's go."

I had almost forgotten about them. Gabriel and I took off back to Jerusalem. When we found them, they had just left King Herod.

"Balthazar, how stupid could you be to ask this king where the infant king of the Jews was born. Couldn't you tell how upset he became?" said Melchior.

"I have to agree." added Gaspar. "We just left one very angry Jew; he acted as if the infant would usurp his throne tomorrow. What should we do now? Where is that star?!"

Gaspar said, "Are we really going back to tell him where we found the king like he told us to?"

Melchior replied, "Let's sleep on it."

"Herod doesn't frighten me." responded Balthazar. We have not come this far to be bullied by that man. Look! There it is, our star! It has reappeared! Wonderful! "

The star reappeared because Gabriel recreated it, and then he tossed it back into my hands. I was so happy to have it back. It was warm and bright. I think the star was happy to be back in my arms. I knew just what to do. I carried it over to the three men who were running to me, to show the magi that the star recognized them too.

Soon, we were back on the road, slowly leading my three wise men to the manger.

When we arrived the shepherds had left. I entered the manger and stood at the head of the sleeping newborn king. Balthazar, Melchior, and Gaspar looked at each other in near disbelief.

"Could this be possible? Look at this poor manger; where is everyone?" exclaimed Melchior.

"This must be the right place," replied Balthazar, "The star went right in! Come, let us follow it to the infant King of the Jews."

The three magi entered respectfully and as the shepherds did, approached Joseph immediately.

They could not communicate with words because they didn't speak Aramaic, but they didn't have to. They were obviously foreigners. They spoke with their bodies. First Balthazar, followed by Melchior and then Gaspar bowed their heads, and knelt by the infant. When they stood up, one by one they handed their gifts to the Mother.

Mary gently received the Frankincense, then the gold, and myrrh. With each gift, she smiled warmly, and shyly bowed her head with half closed eyes.

After they handed over their gifts, the wise men bowed again and bid good bye, walking backwards so that their backs would never be seen by the infant, or His Mother or Joseph.

When they left I wanted to follow them to make sure they departed Palestine safely, but I couldn't separate myself from the babe and the star which I continued to hold for a very long time over His little head while gazing down at the beauty of Emmanuel, God with man. I recognized my God in Him, and yet He was so small and so powerless.