Three Wise Men and a Baby
The three magi sat around a small fire under the desert stars. They were the young Kazpar, Melchior, and the eldest, Balthazar. They had come from the east, following a mysterious star. Now it shone brightly above the little town of Bethlehem, in the valley below. Soft snuffling sounds from their sleeping camels punctuated the silence.
Melchior spat into the fire and looked at the young man. “You and your big mouth,” he said, smiling.
“What?” asked Kazpar. “I was merely asking the question we all want the answer to.”
“You walked into the main city square in Jerusalem,” said Melchior, “and like some town crier, you yelled: ‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and are come to worship him!’ You could have been a little more discreet, that’s all I’m saying.”
“Yes,” added Balthazar, “You brought us to King Herod’s attention. We came here as independent agents, and now we seem to be working for the damned Romans!”
Kazpar stirred the fire a little. “What’s the difference? Herod just wants us to find the child so he can worship him, too.”
Melchior reached over and knocked him lightly on the head with his knuckle. “There’s a big, bright star directly over him. I think anyone could find him without our help.”
“If that were true, Herod would have found him by now.” said Balthazar. “The star is for us alone. No one else sees it. Why else would Herod be so interested in this star, and where and when it was that we first saw it?”
“I didn’t know that, but now it makes sense.” Melchior reflected. “That this sign has appeared to us as a star must have some significance.”
Balthazar stood and stretched. “It does. The star represents light and spirit struggling against the forces of darkness. Mithra, the genius of Heavenly Light, said: ‘I am a star which goes with you and shines out of the depths.’ So shall it be with this child. He shall be as a star shining into the darkness of the spirit.” He turned to the youth. “Kazpar, I’m afraid Herod doesn’t want to worship the child, he wants to kill him. Don’t you remember the dream we all had a few nights ago?”
“Oh, yes, that’s right, I do remember now.” he said dimly. “We were told not to go back to Herod.”
“Clever lad,” grumbled Melchior. “I don’t think the Romans fancy the idea of some ‘King of the Jews.’ It sounds a little subversive. Herod will have heard about the prophecies too, you know. And he’s right to be worried. This child is going to change everything.”
Kazpar sat there, taking it all in. “Wow,” he sighed.
“Yes, wow indeed,” added Balthazar. “We should visit the child in secret, if possible. Herod may have men watching us.” He stoked the dying embers of the fire. “Maybe we should get some rest, and leave just before sunrise. We’ve attracted enough attention.”
Kazpar wrapped himself in his robes against the chilly night, and fell asleep quickly. The other two men sat quietly for some time, each lost in his thoughts. Melchior lit his pipe with a small ember. “This is really a big deal, isn’t it?”
“It certainly is,” said Balthazar, “but I wonder where it will all lead. I’ve had several strange dreams lately.”
“What kind of dreams?”
“I find it difficult to describe them. One was of a baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for two men who wished to marry.”
“Why would two men wish to marry?”
“I’m not sure, but it was somehow different than with the Greeks. They seemed to be in love, like any other couple.” the older man said. “Then there was another dream about someone bombing a building called an abortion clinic.”
“What is that?”
“I have no idea. I told you they were strange. Yet another was of a land far across the seas. And in that land, pairs of well dressed young men wearing sacred undergarments went door to door, bothering people. They would disturb entire neighborhoods. I think they were called Morons, or Mormons, something like that. Are there any more dates?”
Melchior reached for the small bag and handed it to him. He puffed on the pipe, held it in, and exhaled. “This is very good hemp.”
Balthazar laughed, “Yes, most assuredly. I’m told it comes from far to the South, in the Sinai wilderness. There they call it Burning Bush.”
Melchior cleared his throat. “I, too, have had a strange dream, or perhaps a vision.”
“There shall be another great one, six centuries hence, and here in this very region, and he shall be called the Prophet. And his standard will bear the crescent moon. And all around him shall be faith, and peace, and blood.”
“That does sound troubling,” reflected Balthazar, and puffed on his pipe. He sighed. “I guess it’s fortunate that we have a six hundred year head start. Why don’t you wake Kazpar and let’s get going.”
Melchior gently shook the sleeping youth. “Come on, rookie, it’s time to go.”
Kazpar stirred, and sat up slowly. “I’ve just had the strangest dream,” he said. “There was a man, all dressed in red with white buttons, and he was flying through the air in a chariot drawn by strange horned animals. And he could see you when you were sleeping, and he knew when you were awake.”
Balthazar hoisted his bag over his shoulder as he looked at Kazpar: “That wouldn’t seem to fit our narrative,” he said, “but who can say? In two thousand years it may have some deep spiritual meaning. You have the myrhh, I believe.” Kazpar tapped his satchel. “And Melchior, you have the frankincense.”
Melchior nodded and said: “And I assume you have the gold?”
“I have it,” he answered, “thought it be the least of these gifts. Still, it will help the family get a good start.” He looked back at the young man. “Kazpar, why don’t you sing that little song you came up with, but softly, softly. Now let’s go and meet this Messiah.”
They woke the camels and started down the hill towards the city. In the stillness of the desert night the song could barely be heard, like dust blown on the winds:
We three kings of Orient are,
Bearing gifts, we traverse afar.
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star.