|The Magi's Slave
Aziz ran across the warm desert sands with buckets of water in each hand. He was the youngest slave of the Magi, and it was his job to water, feed and brush the camels hair each evening after the days travel. He was excited because the long journey was nearing the end. They were following the star of Bethlehem with two other Magi across the deserts of Persia with gifts to honor the Christ child. Aziz had been working on his own gift for the new king. Night after night after caring for the camels, he had been weaving colored threads of discarded rags, scraps of cloth and even feathers into a blanket for the baby Jesus. Aziz knew how cold the desert nights could get. When he tried to sleep close enough to the camels to share their warmth, they kicked and bellowed to drive him away. After brushing the matted hair of the last camel, he rushed to finish his gift.
Aziz worked many nights by the light of the moon over a dying campfire. By braiding, needle work and the use of clever knots; he had produced a miniature tapestry. Aziz had captured the majesty of the mountains,the blue rushing water of the rivers and the beauty and strength of the animals he saw into the blanket. In the sky he used his brightest threads to produce a star with a long tail. The blanket not only told the story of his journey, but the young slave's joy and love for the beauty of the world. He finished his gift as the sun declared the new morning. He smiled doing his chores, today they would see the Christ child.
The Magi approached the stable, the birthplace of the new born king. After making camp, the Magi gathered with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Aziz followed with his own gift. The Magi turned, when they saw Aziz, they ordered him away exclaiming his gift smelled of camel. They did not bother to even look at his gift, but said the only gifts fit for the king of all men must have value like their own. With tears starting to fall, Aziz turned and ran as fast as he could. When he could run no further he fell to the sand and cried. What had he been thinking? He was nothing but a slave after all. The Magi had saved him from embarrassment. Aziz picked up the offending offering and threw it away over a sandy ridge. He walked slowly back to their camp to care for the camels, but for the first time with no joy in his heart.
The Magi camp was close to the stable of Jesus and Aziz could hear the crying. He finished combing the last camel then found a quiet place out of the way to rest. Still he could hear the baby's cries and noticed they were sad and matched his own feelings. Finally out of curiosity he got up to seek out the sad child. As he approached the stable it became clear he was hearing the sadness of the Christ child. People were kneeling at the stable entrance, many with silent tears of their own. The Magi were among the crowd of people and Aziz asked them why the baby Jesus was crying. The Magi did not know. All the wonderful gifts were ignored at the foot of the baby's bed. A voice behind Aziz said, "young slave, does this not belong to you"?
Aziz turned immediately, but saw no one. On the ground at his feet was a familiar looking bag and in it he knew was the blanket he had made. He picked it up wondering how it had happened to be there. Aziz stepped into the stable and walked softly to the crying baby's manger. In their sadness nobody tried to stop him. he got on his knees and pulled the blanket from the bag and gently lay it over the baby Jesus. The crying stopped. The baby looked up at Aziz. The pain and sadness was lifted from all and joy flooded through the humble room. The Christ child put his hand on the hand of Aziz and smiled, then turned to a contented sleep. The mother and father smiled their gratitude to him then gently bowed their heads. Aziz walked from the stable as all the people smiled at him. When he approached the camels, they parted to let him enter their ranks then circled around him. Aziz had spent his last cold night.
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