At year’s end, when all is sad and done in, we gasp as clouds of smoke appear. But it’s only the yews spewing pollen, outdoing chimneys as if it were spring. That and speech about Mideast peace as juncos reseed themselves, the Christmas rose flops open to cold, and Barney the cat perfects his new trick—he unbars our door.
He stares. (He prefers indoors.) But right there’s the morning star, just like the chorale’s. And up close, trouble— a pup hunting kibble and warmth. And there’s more. Mt. Rainier shows up in pink and blue bunting. So clear. Such fresh-powder glory. The sleepy volcano seems suddenly haloed, huge, and near. So much for our little stable.
I had all the qualifications: the prerogatives of the firstborn, the stature of a man of authority, a Goliath, an aquiline nose, an Octavian head, a heart flaming with anger, Saul’s good looks and regal gait. I had splendor and grace. I prayed loudly, devoutly. I came from good roots and was born in the right place. Who could be holier from Bethlehem?
How could my kid brother be anointed, the one with rosacea, looks like carpenter’s shavings, the smell of sheep dung on his hands, who roamed the fields looking for a lost lamb. He wasn’t even invited to the sacrificial banquet.
That old stickler Samuel knew I should be king. I coveted the horn that was strapped over his shoulders leaning toward me. Why wasn’t that good enough for God? My name alone should have given me the edge in the kingdom.