The Shepherd's Daughter

by B J Blank

"Papa, who is singing?" The small girl crawled out of her blankets near the campfire to find her father's lap.

Her father sighed, cuddling his daughter against the midnight air, "I don't hear singing, little one. Maybe it is your mother's spirit singing you to sleep." He placed a stick on the small fire and pulled his cloak tighter around his sightless child.

"No, it is angels singing," the child said. "Maybe Mama, too. They sing about following a light to a baby. Papa, where is the light? Can we go? Please?"

"Maryam, I don't hear singing. I don't see a light. Put your head down and go to —"

"Go to where, Papa?" .

"Shhh, little one." He lifted his head looking to the skies. "I do hear singing. There is a bright star shining. I wish you could see it!"

Maryam patted her father's bearded cheek. She tucked the toy lamb her mother had made before she died. Her papa and her lamb were her only reminders of her mother. "It's all right, Papa." She took her father's hand. "The singing says, go to the light. The baby is there. Mama would want us to go."

He set Maryam on her small feet and damped the fire. "The herd sleeps safely here. If we hurry we will return before they wake." He picked up his daughter and ran toward the distant hill caves where the light shone.

Joined by running shepherds, they crossed streams, dodged trees and passed by rocky places, and reached an opening before a brightly lit cave. Sheltered from the weather, a woman held an infant cradled to her heart. She was smiling.

One young shepherd carried a baby lamb. Reverently he placed it in the straw near the mother As it curled to sleep, she nodded and thanked him.

Another shepherd placed a soft wool blanket on the lady's lap. She touched him on the cheek and tucked the blanket around her son.

Maryam felt tears fall on her hand. "Why are you crying, Papa?"

"I don't know my child. Seeing this makes me happy."

"Bring me to what makes you happy so I can know it, too. I need to touch it."

He took her hand and walked among the kneeling shepherds. "We are here, Maryam," he said. "We stand before a mother and her baby. I wish you could see her. Perhaps she will allow you to touch."

The lady took the blind girl's hand. "Come, sit with us. He needs to touch you."

Together they sat, Baby, Mother and Maryam. Then the lady kissed her cheek. Maryam opened her eyes and saw! She reached over and placed her toy lamb at the baby's tiny feet. She bowed her head to the lady, stood up and walked to her father.

The lady spoke, "Maryam, wherever you are, think of the child. Be with him always."

"Always. I promise, always," the young girl answered.

Soon, her father fearing the violence in the south, returned to their home in Magdala. As the young girl grew, she listened for word of the boy. As a young woman, Maryam left her father's home and ministered to the young man and the people. Always.

The Beginning

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by B J Blank

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