- “Has your birthday been pleasing?” my mother asked me at bedtime. I had snuffled in under thick woolen blankets, my younger brothers were already sound asleep, Hakob beside me and Joses in his cradle. The oil lamp in the front room spread a yellow light in through the door between the two rooms of our house; the light from outdoors through the small window opening was growing weaker with the night falling. I nodded, and stroking my hair, she continued:
- “You are a big boy now Yeshua, five years old. You will soon start to help your father with mending his tools.”
- “Yes”, I said, “but Mother, tell me now about your dream about the angel.”
It had been our own tradition, my mother Miryam’s and mine, to talk about her dream once a year, in the evening of my birthday. I do not remember when she started doing this; she might have done it even before I could speak.
- “Ah yes, my dream…”, she started, her eyes looking into the distance, “Before you were born, I and your father had just settled into our new home, this house, and we longed for having a family. Early one morning I dreamt that I awoke, and I was not surprised that I was alone, as I knew your father Yosef had already left for work. But I heard someone in the other room, so I put my robe on and went out. There I met a very tall man, clad in a white tunic, and he said ‘Do not be alarmed, dear Miryam. I have a message from Allah, saying that you will give birth to a boy. He will become a king, and he will make everyone free.’ And he started to glow, brighter and brighter, until I could only see a white, warm light which was stronger than anything I have ever seen, but which still neither burnt or blinded me. After a moment the light faded slowly, and the man had disappeared.”
As we always have done this ritual of ours, I asked
- “What did he mean by king? Will I become the king of Galilee, or where? Old Herodes’ sons, they are kings now, will they not continue to rule?”
Mother smiled, patted my head.
- “Of course they will. But you will find your own kingdom, is it not so?”
I sat up eagerly - now it was my turn:
- “Yes, that I have been told in my dreams. In my dreams the angel you met comes and gives me a golden chalice, and he says that this is your weapon. With this you will conquer the world. What does he mean, how can a chalice be a weapon?”
Even though we had played this game many times, there came sadness in my mother’s eyes, when she said
- “I do not know, my beloved Yeshua. All the other boys in the village dream of joining the zealots, and they long for learning to fight with swords and daggers. And we never win, many die… Maybe the chalice means that you will fight with words, with new thoughts.”
These words were the ones that always had signaled the end of our yearly tradition. All of the times before, I had not understood what she meant, only understood her anxiety and her sorrow, and we had just hugged. But this time, I felt something growing inside, like a fire in my stomach, working its way up.
- “I am going to search for that chalice! I will find it and then I will become a king!”
My mother Miryam looked at me, a surprised look in her eyes. She saw that I did not smile; I was not playing our old game any longer.
- “But how will you know it is the right chalice you find?”
- “I will drink out of it. If it makes me strong I will carry it with me out into the world and I will give others to drink. The ones I give this to drink from will never be thirsty again!”
My mother looked at me in a strange way, almost shocked:
- “I have never told you – the angel in my dream said something like that, but I could never understand what he meant, so I never told anyone. And now you say it…”
- “I know it for sure”, I said, “I will find that chalice.”
- “I think you will…”, she said, “but now it is time to sleep. Tomorrow early you have to go to the Rabbi with your brother for your reading lessons. I wish you a good night now, my little boy.”
And she hugged me, longer than she usually did, and tucked me in.
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