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Scenes from Cairo Diary: an Egyptian fable

Hi…Last week I said that I would be including a few scenes that are often part of a book talk about Cairo Diary: an Egyptian fable.  In this scene, we meet Mary of Nazareth, mother of Jesus.  Linda

Chapter 2

there appeared an angel of the Lord to Joseph

in a dream, saying, ‘Rise, take the child and his

mother and flee to Egypt…

-Matthew 2:11

April 9, 2 CE

Sunlight skimmed across the water beneath a pale lavender mist as she watched the Great River come to life around her, warm sand rising between her toes. How long will these mornings be mine? Mary wondered. For nearly eight summers I’ve been free to come to this river alone, to listen to my own thoughts. At home in Palestine, my mother never felt the warm waters touch her skin, never traveled without a man at her side. Mary stepped into the river, embraced by the waters rising around her ankles.

As she watched, a white crane, startled by the approaching light, took flight.  Hundreds of birds ascended in harmony while a single pelican swooped into the water, found its target, and emerged with a mouthful of squirming catfish. Mary’s attention moved to the glassy water below, where blue and white lotuses with toothed leaves offered temporary homes to restless grasshoppers and water beetles.  Joseph moves slowly now and speaks of home. What will l say, what will I do, when the time comes to return to Palestine? Will my voice be heard?

The water nearby parted as two large protruding eyes joined by a gray leather mound surfaced into sunlight. An indifferent purple gallinule spread its wings and squatted between the hippo’s eyes. Colorful bursts of acacia, hyacinth, and oleander hugged the towering palms near Mary’s feet.  As she deeply inhaled the fragrant air, she felt a wave of exhilaration. Although melancholy was often companion to her thoughts, she was grateful to God for these moments alone.

She knelt to catch some of the warm, clear water in her pot, slipping her sandy feet into worn leather sandals. Wet sand clung to the fringe on her tunic. She shook it to loosen the sand’s tight hold. The cloth would dry quickly.

As she leaned forward, her thick blanket of hair—not yet tamed for the day—was divided by a peak at the center of her forehead and framed an oval face tanned by the Egyptian sun. Two dimples deepened when she smiled. Her black eyes were especially alive and curious this morning. As a woman of twenty-four summers, she had grown into a rare beauty, far more beautiful than her modesty would allow her to comprehend. She was a woman with neither mirror nor vanity.

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