The boy asked if we could do something together.
He’s eleven going on eighteen. Maybe it’s because he’s the oldest and the first, but I’ve always looked up to him, always respected him, expected a little too much from him.
But now I sense the shift.
I haven’t the first clue how a woman guides her son to be a man. And perhaps that’s the way it ought to be. For this is where we begin to part ways-the breaking free of me.
But not this day.
This day the boy asks if we can do something together. There are only so many minutes in a day, only fifteen minutes until bed. So we put on our coats and reach for the stars.
This is our thing.
We run outside and look up. There are no stars. The sky is dark as Arabian pitch. We stand, still waiting, waiting for eyes to adjust their vision and reveal what we know is there.
I look to the east.
They are coming. We run for the hills of the southern border. “Hear me, son. You must know. You must know when to remain on the trail and when to flee for the cover of nightfall.”
We make haste.
“Mom? ” He dodges the headlights, diving into the bush. “Do you think we’ll ever have to do this for real? For our lives?” I thrive on his questions. I cherish his questions.
I don’t know.
“Perhaps.” We come to a road, take a sharp turn towards the graveyard. We stop and wait, waiting to see what we know is there. The black turns slow into marble stones of grey.
“Let’s go”, he says.
I hesitate. We’ve come this way before, long ago when he was yet a child, and this is why–that even though he walk through the valley of the shadow of death he would fear no evil.
“The LORD of hosts is with us.” That’s my boy.
I begin my reciting of the twenty-third psalm, the only one I know quick enough to run to. “Did I ever tell you the story, son, of the Psalm and the dogs?” By now we’re heading north.
We walk hand in hand.
“A couple years back I was alone out in the country, training for a 5K, the only 5K I’ve ever run. Two dogs came running after me. They weren’t big dogs, but dogs nonetheless. ”
Scared me half to death.
“I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t have a lot of time to figure it out. Dogs were chasing me. It was either try and kick the you know what out of them or pray the Psalm of David.”
I chose the latter.
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. And on and on I ran and prayed, like I said, the only psalm I know quick enough to run to. And you know what happened after that?”
“What”, the boy asks.
“The dogs caught up and began running beside me–one dog on either side. All I could do was keep running and keep psalming–trusting the Word of God has the power it claims.”
We see the Star now.
“I came up to another house. This one had a dog three times as big. It stood up, growled, barked and barked as I ran and psalmed. But it didn’t run after me. It didn’t come near me.”
“You think that was a coincidence?” He questions.
“I don’t know. I don’t think it was. I think those little dogs protected me from the big dog. This is why I tell you this things. Because you need to know. The Word of God has power.”
We’re almost home now.
“The Holy Spirit–it’s like the force in Star Wars. Only this isn’t a movie, this is for real.” I leave it at that. “You know, for not liking movies that much, that new one was super good.”
We step inside and take off our coats–time to tuck the boy in bed.
The Magi make their way.