O Sapientia.

It was from Joseph first I learned
of love. Like me he was dismayed.
How easily he could have turned
me from his house; but, unafraid,
he put me not away from him
(O God-sent angel, pray for him).
Thus through his love was Love obeyed.
The Child’s first cry came like a bell:
God’s Word aloud, God’s Word in deed.
The angel spoke: so it befell,
and Joseph with me in my need.
O Child whose father came from heaven,
to you another gift was given,
your earthly father chosen well.

With Joseph I was always warmed
and cherished. Even in the stable
I knew that I would not be harmed.
And, though above the angels swarmed,
man’s love it was that made me able
to bear God’s love, wild, formidable,
to bear God’s will, through me performed. -Madeleine L’Engle

I wish we knew more about Joseph. I always find him so interesting. Years ago, I read a novel by Elizabeth George called Missing Joseph, which doesn’t have anything to do with Christmas or this post, really, except that one of the things the book talks about is that Joseph is often missing from the Christmas pictures. Mary takes center stage with Jesus. That was probably the first thing that sparked my interest in him, back in middle school. I don’t remember what else that had to do with the plot of the story, though.

A few days ago, I wrote about how Mary and Joseph must have been not only amazing individuals but also an amazing couple together for them to have been given such great responsibility. I thought about that when reading this poem, too, but on a more personal level. I have a very loving family, but at the same time, I have learned so much about love by being married to Mike. I tend to think that Jesus’ earthly father was a little bit like Mike – quiet, determined, brave.

The poem theorizes that Joseph’s love and compassion made it easier to bear the things that happened to Mary, and I believe that was probably true, if only because we as humans were created that way, to need the people around us. God placed a community around Mary that helped her be brave enough to say yes to the angel, bear the controversy of her pregnancy, give birth in a stable, face the things that happened later on in Jesus’ life and his ministry. Though different things are required of me, God has also gifted me with people who help me face the things that happen in this life, both wonderful and terrible. And I am glad that Mike, with his compassion and humor, his quiet determination, his patience, is with me as we try to listen and obey the wild, strange love of God together.

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