(ANOTHER “MODERN DAY REPORTER” STORY)
Bottom Of The Well– PART 2– “The Lost Star”
A Story Of The Nativity–by Bill Byrnes
Micah:5:2 : “But thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall come forth unto me he that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been of old to everlasting.”
Note: There exists an old legend about the Magi: On the way to Bethlehem, the Magi lost sight of the Christmas Star. Fortunately they knew their destination–Bethlehem. They arrived well into the afternoon. After settling near a local inn, it was close to dusk when one of them went to draw some water from the inn’s well. An unusual phenomenon gave them what they needed–at the bottom of the well!
Psalm 68:29: “Because of at Jerusalem shall kings bring presents unto thee.”
We arrived in Bethlehem about a couple of hours before dusk. It was an amazing sight. A little hamlet–normally with only about 1,000 inhabitants, had transformed into a crowded hub of humanity. This was because of the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar’s order that all residents of Judea were to return to their home-land and register for a census. We could only guess that the total number of visitors to be a few thousand. The big question was how would we be able to find a newborn in all of this?
Melchior assigned us our tasks while he went to seek accommodations for the group. He returned in about thirty minutes and directed us to an open area we could use as a camp-site. While I worked with the other attendants setting up tents I noticed the Magi seriously discussing something. I couldn’t hear them. However, their euphoric visages of earlier were replaced by tense and worried looks, with some of their exchanges being a little “loud”. They waved me over to them. I arrived, and kept to the same tact of “extreme” courtesy I used before now. I looked at all of them directly, and said, “I would be honored if I can be of any service to you.”
“You can if you control the Heavens!” said Melchior.
He continued, “We are perplexed as to how we find a man, his wife and a newly born infant in this sea of humanity!” Also, we trusted on seeing our conjunction “star” one last time. All our calculations, which have been totally correct and accurate until now, told us to expect it three times. We should have seen it by now.” Then displaying a slightly exasperated look, he added, “Gaspar, come with me. I’ll need your youthful energy to help find a local mid-wife. Perhaps she was involved in a local birth and might know where to find them. Balthazar, perhaps you and friend Bill wouldn’t mind drawing some water from the well.” As he finished his command he motioned to a nearby well. Both of us just mentioned one word: “Yes.”
It was only about ten steps to the well. Balthazar got there first. To his credit, and subsequent good fortune, he started drawing up the water, rather than waiting for the “commoner” to get there and do all the manual labor. I took in all the common motions associated with drawing water so I could be ready to grab the bucket from him when he got it to the top of the well.
Suddenly, he started some movements that were very puzzling. He stopped, moving his head forward into the opening. With his mouth open wide, he jerked his head back–looked up–then back into the well; up, then back again. He looked at me shouting laughingly, “It’s here—it’s here!” Then he turned in the direction of the two departed Magi, “Melchior…Gaspar…come! It’s here!” He finished his exclamation by pointing upwards. After a few bewildering moments, they realized what Balthazar was referring to, and quickly moved toward us. As they arrived Balthazar shouted, “We were never wrong. It was here all along!” He brought Melchior over to the edge of the well–pointing into it–then directed the elder’s gaze up to an exact point of the sky. A huge grin enveloped the lower half of Melchior’s face, as he turned to me, with hands clasped together. Then, he placed his hand on my shoulder, pulled me to the edge of the well, pointed downwards, and said, “Praise God–friend–look there–in the water…at the bottom of the well!”
At first, when I looked into the bottom of the well, I didn’t notice anything. Then Melchior leaned over next to me, then said in a fatherly tone, “I forget that you’re not a trained observer”. Then he took my left arm at the base of my forearm, just above the elbow, saying, “Hold out your index finger.” He moved my arm straight up, then a little left. “There, you see it now? There, just above your index finger!” When I saw it…it was stunning. “How is it possible to see in at the bottom of the well, and not with normal observation?” He answered, “It’s something that we’ve only heard about, never seen–until now. The patriarch continued, “What happened was that the star was always where it is, now. But the sunlight was so bright at this particular point in our world it blocked out any sight of the conjunction–even though it appears as one star, brighter than any other star in the sky. But the long, dark shaft of the well restricts the vast amount of bright light that was blocking our view. Also, the still water at the bottom is a perfect lens to capture the image. Now, Gaspar and Balthazar are calculating its exact position–we’re sure it will show us the way. Now, why don’t you and Azariah pass out some rations to the other men? The three of us must change into garments fit to meet a king! We all must hurry!”
The entire procession was and moving when dusk was over-taken by the early nighttime sky. I noticed the star was still visible, but much lower in the sky–and becoming dimmer! We arrived at our destination–only about 20 minutes from our encampment. As we walked towards a very basic structure resembling a small stable, or manger, I was overcome by humility. The night was incredibly still–hardly a sound. But the Magi, in their kingly attire, were breathtaking! In red, blue and purple satin robes with hats to match, anyone seeing this would think they were the true kings!
“ Anyone seeing them would think they were the true kings”
Yes, we all had the chance to see the newborn king. However, I must end the story here. This will sound somewhat dramatic, but subsequent events have cast an ominous shadow into my recounting.
Early this morning, the Magi and their procession bid me a fond farewell. Gaspar explained that over-night all the Magi had the SAME dream! According to him, they received a message from an angel warning them not to return home thru Jerusalem; that they should take another route and soon. This confirmed my fear that King Herod was somehow the reason for the warning. Therefore, I will not give any other details about visiting Jesus, the infant’s name, lest those details are used in ways to identify him. Despite the huge celestial birthday announcement, “stealth” should be the new by-word.
Also, I realized the true meaning of Balthazar’s words from the night before, when he said “…his father would protect him.” What occurred at the bottom of the well was not some chance occurrence. It was really God’s way of protecting his son. If the Magi knew what the star meant, then there would be others who would also know the meaning. What better way of protecting him than to hide the “messenger” of his birth. I laughed at the thought of it. The greatest event (possibly) in the history of the world, and its calling card could only be found…. at the bottom of a well!
To all of you: Have a Blessed and a Merry Christmas.– Thank you for being readers!