It is time! Joseph thought.
With his tough carpenter’s hands, Joseph touched his wife's cheek, feeling the dampness from her tears. His own eyes clouded as he said "I know nothing of birthing a baby." Realizing they would never make Bethlehem before the child came, he took refuge in a shallow cave near a meadow where shepherds grazed their sheep. There, Mary, with Joseph's help, gave birth to her special child of God.
As Mary held the baby to her breast, she said, "We will call her, Lael. The name means Chosen of God." As she said this, there was a cry in the nearby cave. A young woman, alone, gave birth to a child.
Before she died, she named the boy.
With his rough carpenter’s hands, Joseph gently brushed a finger against his wife’s cheek, feeling the dampness from her tears. His own eyes clouded as he said, “I know nothing of birthing a baby.”
“The old woman, she—” Mary felt the next terrible pain and muted her groan with the back of her hand. The sound echoed in the tight recess of the small cave. A fire of branches sputtered in a circle of stones, and Joseph added a few more sticks from the depression in the stone wall where he had stacked bits of wood to fuel the fire during the long night ahead.
Joseph pressed his unkempt beard against Mary’s face and kissed her on the forehead. “The old shepherd woman has gone,” he said. He dampened a cloth from the few precious drops left in the water jar and patted the perspiration from his wife’s brow before adding, “We are alone.”
Dark descended outside the cave as Joseph added the last of the sticks to the fire. Flickering light danced eerily on the darkening walls of the cave. Hearing cries from the shepherds, he ventured outside and noticed a streak of blazing light as it crossed the starlit skies, a luminous ball with a shimmering tail. Then he heard Mary’s cry and returned to her side.
Joseph, knowing he was the only one to help his wife, used his callused hands to aid with the birth of the child, wincing with each cry Mary made. After one final violent upheaval of his wife’s body the child slipped from her womb and into his hands. Joseph held the tiny baby in the palms of his bloodied hands and said, “It is . . . a girl.”
In flickering light from the fire’s glowing embers, Mary reached for the child and held it to her breast. She looked adorning into the eyes of the baby and in a barely audible voice said, “We will call our child Lael.”
Joseph said, “The name of our first born should be yours, Mary.”
“No, Joseph. The name, Lael, means Chosen of God. ”
The baby snuggled into the fabric of Mary’s cloak. Joseph heard a wail from outside the cave. It is a sound like Mary’s, Joseph thought, the cry of a baby being born.
Soon thereafter, the old shepherd woman, gray strings of hair revealing glimpses of her deeply wrinkled face, brought in a baby wrapped in a grimy sheath of cloth. “Here, take it,” she growled. “I am too old to care for it.”
Mary rose to her elbow. “I . . . can’t. I have a baby girl.”
The old woman pointed a gnarled finger at the bundle she held. “This one is a boy. The mother, another lost traveler, alone, no man was with her, died giving birth.” She pulled back the cloth and showed the luminous face of the child. “She told me a strange story of her family, but not where to find them. Then she told me of an angel . . .” She spat on the fire, and it crackled and sputtered. “It was too much for me to believe.” The baby began to cry. “Pah. The child needs a breast. Not my withered paps.” She laid the infant next to Mary. “You have milk for two.
Mary looked at Joseph and saw the slight nod of his head.
The old woman turned to go, then stopped and looked over her shoulder. “Before the mother died, she named the child.”
“By what name?” Joseph asked.
“A common name, not unlike many others.”
"Mary took the child lovingly to her bosom, held it next to her tiny girl, and asked,
“What is the child called?”