January 8, 2023
“More light,” grumbled the camel. “I want more light.”
Camels are not naturally night animals. If I lived in the desert I would be a night animal, but camels can tolerate the desert sun in ways that I can’t. They like the day, and their favorite way to spend the day is with eating.
After all the Christmas celebrating we’ve done, that might feel a little familiar.
This camel was grumpy because, first of all, he was a burdened beast. On his arched back he carried a saddle sometimes, and a load of goods on others. There was one set of bags he really dreaded. It was heavy and sometimes it clinked in a really annoying way. He preferred carrying one of these stargazers to that one.
“It’s as heavy as lead,” he’d say.
“I think it’s gold,” said another camel.
“It’s as heavy as lead,” he’d repeat, which is basically true, after all.
He didn’t complain quite as much about the other two loads, which were both lighter and smelled nice.
Second of all, the camel was grumpy because it had become a very long trip. Long trips aren’t unusual in the life of a camel, but that doesn’t mean they like them. This one didn’t like them.
“Will it never end?” he said.
“I think we’re almost there,” soothed another camel.
“Will it never end?” he’d repeat.
Third of all, the camel was grumpy because they were travelling at night. Camels aren’t night animals. This camel wasn’t a night animal. This camel was increasingly cross.
“More light,” he grumbled. “I want more light.”
“I think they’re following that star,” said another camel.
“Stupid stargazers,” said the camel. “I want more light.”
I think you can probably guess who those star-followers were, and where they went, and who they saw, and what gifts they gave that family. Here’s a hint: it wasn’t lead. It was gold.
When they left, the camel was in a much better mood. For one thing, it looked like they were taking a different, hopefully shorter route back. For another, the three loads were gone, so there wasn’t as much to carry. For another, they were finally back to sensible travel by day.
And finally, something had happened when that camel had, drawn by some unlikely curiosity, stuck his nose through a window and seen a baby receiving those things he’d carried across the miles. The gold and frankincense and myrrh didn’t seem like great playthings for an infant, but they seemed really important for a family that was obviously poor and seemed to be worried about trouble. And the child himself, well: the camel felt, just for an instant, like he had made a world of difference, and that he could do so again.
“More light,” he said as he took each step on the way home. “I think I’ve seen more light.”
by Eric Anderson
Watch the Recorded Story
In the recording, I’m telling the story from memory of the prepared text above. Between memory and improvisation, there’s a lot differences between them.
The image is Journey of the Magi by James Tissot – Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45592253. Regrettably, the artist set the painting in daylight.