Monday, December 7, 2020

Joseph & the Birth of Jesus


Photo credit:



The carpenter laid his hammer down

brushed sawdust from his clothes

slouched onto the rude wooden bench

he’d been working on

and ran calloused hands

through his dark, wavy beard

It seemed he’d misjudged

his beloved, his betrothed

her purity, fidelity, her forthrightness

Earlier that day

the tender voice he knew well

spoke softly of pregnancy

an angel...overshadowing

of some holy thing

It was too much for him

incomprehensible, even incredible

Joseph leaned back against the rough wood

stretched his sinewy arms

gazed with resignation toward the heavens

He'd hand her a bill of divorcement —

wash his hands. It was over. Finished

He rose, shook his head

and returned to work


In the night

tension dissolved

into welcome sleep

Deep, deep in its midst

a flurry of wings and light

wrapped him in wonder

A stirring voice resonated

“Fear not...

Take Mary as your wife”

Words swirled as he tossed

“for the Son conceived in her

is of the Holy Spirit."

Then distinctly, Joseph heard

“Name Him Jesus…

“He will save your people from their sins”



Mary placed a few belongings into a sack

She and Joseph were about to leave

for Bethlehem, for the census

She felt a hardy kick

from inside her swollen belly

and reflexively caressed the spot

“A knee,” she smiled

God had chosen her for a purpose

she could barely comprehend

and the birth would be soon

She neatly folded soft, clean cloths

and packed them

just in case her time would come

during the journey


Traveling was arduous

by foot and donkey-back

over hills and rocky terrain

Joseph was attentive

stopping periodically for rests

but evening was fast approaching

Finally, they could see the town ahead

Suddenly, Mary felt her stomach stiffen

Was this the sign

Elizabeth had told her about

Her back ached. She was weary

Soon, her stomach tightened again

then again, but stronger

She told Joseph

who touched her, tenderly

and bid her not to fret

Lodging was close by

But when they arrived

the innkeeper told them

the place was packed with travelers

Seeing their dilemma

he offered shelter and privacy

in the livestock cave out back

Joseph helped her off the donkey

and into the dark rock-hewn cave

Hurriedly, he gathered fresh hay

and prepared a makeshift nook

apart from the animals

then sat at Mary’s side, cooling her brow

as contractions intensified



In the evening chill

amid moon and star and lantern-light

the musky odor of straw and dung

rhythmic sounds of

braying, bleating

and occasional shouts and laughter

emanating from the inn

the carpenter rolled his sleeves

and delivered the Promised One

Joseph presented the healthy boy child

to his virginal wife to nurse

then emptied a rugged old trough

and filled it with sweet-smelling hay

all the time thinking

of the fine, smoothly sanded cradle

back home in Nazareth

"Jesus, someday I'll teach you

how to select the finest woods

how to build and saw and sand

You'll be a fine carpenter, Jesus

a very fine carpenter…"

Joseph carefully placed Jesus

in the makeshift cradle

then fashioned a spot for himself

on the floor of the cave

and soon fell fast asleep


Maude Carolan Pych

NOTE: The above poem is included in my book of poems about the Birth, Death & Resurrection of Jesus. It is titled, "Behold the Lamb...poetically!" and is available through my website at or at


  1. Thank you for this gift, Maude. It is beautiful.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Barbara. I’m so glad that my poem about Joseph touched your heart.