Saturday, 27 June 2020
Wednesday, 19 December 2018
More Trouble At Manger
I have been writing a collection of short stories with the working title "Images". This story is "Trouble At Manger", and I wanted to share it at Xmas with you.
It is the story of the birth of Jesus from the point of view of Mary, Joseph, Herod, Augustus, John The Baptist and finally Jesus. This chapter looks at the story from Joseph's point of view. Let me know what you think and:
It is now two days after Jesus’s birth. It is Sunday the 27th December, in the year 748 Ab Urbe Condita (AUC).
This calendar is the one being used by the Romans during this period – 001 AUC represents the year Rome was allegedly founded.
We are in Bethlehem with Joseph, Mary, The Shepherds who are Asher, Zebulun, Justus, Nicodemus, Joseph, Barshabba, and Jose and the 3 Wise men namely Balthasar, Melchior and Gaspar, or Basanater, Hor, and Karsudan, as they were known by the Ethiopians, and the enormity of the future is beginning to sink in to Joseph. He was a quiet man, never made a fuss about anything. Everything about him was unruffled and smooth as the wood he used to plane as a carpenter, and that’s the way he liked it, until now.
Joseph always saw his thoughts as part of his internal world, and they had to be managed very well. He always knew that words were a very important part of thoughts. The building blocks of ideas that change things for the better or for, the worse and that you had to weigh up and deeply consider what your words and consequentially your thoughts implied.
You then had to decide which of those myriads of emotions you should send into your external world as actions. For once you had crossed the border and translated your thought into deed, there was just no going back. And not all thought was worthy of exploitation.
Joseph came out of the manger as the moon was in mid sky and sighed. He saw the silver moonlight reflecting off the Dead Sea and tasted the salt as the waves meandered about way below and he was afraid.
During the stifled laughs, silent screams muted cacophony that was buzzing around the manger, Jesus opened his tiny little eyes, and the noise in the barn came to an abrupt halt. He then kept his mouth tightly closed and spoke in the most primordial of ways using only his eyes, to Joseph. The way humans communicated way before we had the voice and could make noise and Joseph understood everything.
He saw the likely alternatives that were going to be presented to him and his family over the coming years and the consequences of them all. And it was up to him to decide which actions he would have to take to keep his family safe. “God had entrusted his only begotten son to me, a carpenter named Joseph”, he thought. He looked up to high heaven and said “Father, I place into your hands, the things I cannot do, the future I cannot control and the events I cannot envisage and as he finished, he was sure the moon smiled back at him.
The wise men and the shepherds had also felt Jesus’s communication, although they were sure they had heard an angel speaking to Joseph. They too knew what had to be done. Jesus was going to be circumcised quietly on the 8th day, he would be presented on the 40th, and the young family would need to get to Cairo in Egypt before the alarm bells started ringing in King Herod and Caesar Augustus’s ear. They simply had to escape from the paranoia of the clinically depressed King Herod the Great and those Roman soldiers.
The wise men and the shepherds waved goodbye to Mary and Joseph as they went back to the reality of their own lives, joyful of the things they had seen. Mary and Joseph went from house to house, hiding and keeping very quiet, whilst they carried out the Lord’s instructions.
On the night of the 40th day, while the Roman soldiers were coming up the very steep hill to Bethlehem to search the houses again, Joseph, Mary and Jesus were sneaking down the other side and on their way to Egypt.
They would not return until they heard that King Herod had died in the year 4BC or 751AUC. Jesus was now 3 years old and finally safe. His final journey could begin. The family went to live in a place that would come to be known as Nazareth, where he remained almost invisible.
Mary and Joseph had six other children, James, Joseph, Simon, Judas and Jesus’s 2 sisters and they all grew up peacefully in Nazareth, while Herod Antipas, who had taken over after the death of his father Herod the Great, ruled all over Judea. He would later have John the Baptist beheaded when Salome asked him to, but all that was to come.
In fact, Jesus was hardly heard of again until he was 12 years old in 6AD, or 760 AUC when he was observed discussing the scriptures in the temple with the scholars.
The Jesus of Nazareth we have come to know was slowly beginning to emerge.
Tuesday, 4 December 2018
Memories Of Childhood
I have so many memories of my childhood,
Each one, so vivid and clear.
They are like giant, but silent Mahoe trees
Dominating the landscapes of my dreams.
Seeing all, and yet so large
They are almost invisible.
The recollections are almost Omni-prescient
Using prophetic words just like a mantic
Referring me back to a distant past
And showing me a far-off future
All at the same time.
And each night I travel back to the forest,
With bamboo leaves on the ground
Cushioning my fall, as the branch
I was hoping to clasp on the way down
Escapes my grasp yet again.
I fall into the eiderdown of the bamboo leaves
And I am safe once more.
In the noon of the day
We go scrumping for mangoes
On the farms, hanging off the sides
Of the Blue Mountain.
Unafraid in our arrogance,
We think no harm can come of us.
The farmer sees us coming yet again,
The fifth time for the week.
He sharpens his machete across the stone
And looks at us in glee.
“Come,” he says with his eyes
“I dare you to come” he stares
Hands akimbo, cutlass blade ready to strike
He hopes our arrogance will cease.
I am sitting at the top of the tree.
And I gauge how far it is to the ground.
I am calculating how many branches I will need to swing on
To avoid his slashing blade.
He spies me in the tree,
He thinks he knows the only thing I can do.
He moves over to where he imagines I will land,
And I busily recalculate.
We stay motionless for an eternity.
Both waiting for the moment to strike.
Me, the nearest branch of the tree
And him, wherever his machete lands.
My young brother and my cousin shouts and run past him,
And his blade swings in their direction.
I know he is now distracted,
And I make my first move to land.
I swing to one branch going East, and he follows.
I catch another bough going West, and he is lost
My last branch still goes West, and he is defeated.
I land, roll forward and run in one all-encompassing move.
The four of us just kept running
Until Church Hill, our village came into view
By now the poor farmer had given up the chase
He paused under a Star Apple tree and smiled
Caught the cool breeze as it bounced off the mountain
His job done for another day.
And these memories keep coming back to me
Reminding me of who I am
I smile as I remember My Jamaica
And like the giant Iroko of my African Ancestors
The Mahoe tree smiles back at me.
Copyright: Roy Merchant 24th November 2018
Sunday, 28 October 2018
This is a excerpt from the book I am just finishing and is:
The Third Thing I Wish I Knew
Let me know what you think in our comment section which is found by scrolling down to the bottom of the
We Are Mortal And Just Passing Through.
I wish I knew at 20 that your energies will not last forever. I know that at that young age life is just an endless list of possibilities and you do not feel that you have to worry about anything like the longevity of your time on Gaia. But it is a race and try as you might, you will not get everything done before time calls and catches you totally unprepared for the next great journey. So, it is best to keep yourself as whole, happy, healthy and as un-obsessed as life will allow. Relax and play with your friends, smile as much as you can. Share your energy with others, in time they will share theirs with you. Most importantly, be at peace with yourself, and you will end up being at peace with others.
I wish I knew then that you must try and live out all of your dreams, rather than think that the habits and customs that have been indoctrinated into you by your parents are the right templates for a successful life. You only have one lifetime and the time frame for it is about 60 – 70 useful years if you get there. After that, you are pretty much finished. You say you are alive, you convince yourself that it is all about mind over matter, but really, it is not. If you are still physically fit, your mind has lost all the courage and “try first, worry later” mentality that has driven it for the last 60 years and what you have left are the uncertainties.
You cannot achieve great things with uncertainties. The saddest thing to me is meeting someone who has gotten to 70, then looks back and realise that they have fulfilled everyone else’s dreams and theirs are still unborn. Still lifeless in the things to do section, impatiently waiting in the “Must get around to this one-day” file that has been gathering dust for decades after decades. Meanwhile, you look at the things you have achieved in your time because we all have them and we find that all of them have someone else’s name on them.
People are running around shouting and bragging about the things they have done single-handedly, and when you look at them, they have your joint signature all over them. Help as many people as you can, but always remember to make sure that your dreams are incorporated into everything that you do. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to fulfil your dreams. Remember that those dreams are tomorrow’s realities.
If only I had worked out by 20 that it is the affiliations that you discover, nurture, protect and maintain that will repay you in the later years. It is everyone for themselves, and you cannot rely on anyone to ensure that your relationships are safe, while you are occupied. Never take it for granted that your relationships are being meaningfully defended in your absence. You must find ways of making sure that your emotional connections are being maintained, through conversations, laughs, jokes and whatever else it takes to keep them blooming. Otherwise, you get to a certain point and realise that your connections are withering on the vine. It is no one’s fault. It is just how it is. We are selfish beings, us humans.
Do not allow your mind to be filled with any regrets, self-pity, or sad memories of what could / should have been. Revise what could have been into what is possible now and do it. Save the day. Remember that if you are the I of NOW, then your children are the I’s of TOMORROW.
I wish I could have seen that it is crucial to take love seriously. It is the only thing that makes sense. If you cannot find a God, if you think that the only spirits are what you drink on a Saturday night and nothing else, or that the mind is just a storehouse for your memories and your photographs and nothing else matters, then love becomes the most significant philosophical entity that can change how you feel about things. Without love and faith in it, there is no hope.
Without hope, there is no point in getting out of bed in the morning, because there is no incentive to go and change the world. And, we exist to change the world. So find love, do not give up on it as it will never give up on you. Sometimes it is in the shade waiting for you to discover it. Other times it is by a brook, waiting for you to turn up, so it can make the connection and move on to its next client. Remember that love is the positive spiritual force in the universe, and although it has to fight a host of negative energies, its ultimate victory is never in doubt. Be positive and hopeful.
20 would have been a good age to figure all this out.
Full copyright : Roy Merchant - September 2018
Monday, 3 September 2018
The last standing uncle on my father's side died very recently, which puts my siblings and I at the top of the tree. He was a man I loved very much and what follows is a tribute to him. R.I.P Uncle.