Friday, December 20, 1996

A Christmas Fantasy: The real Drummerboy story

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #41, December 20, 1996)

Many, many years ago, in a land far away, there was a young drummerboy named Willie. Willie played his drum at the temple, where he accompanied the temple dancers. He loved drumming, and he also loved the leather harness that he wore to carry the drum. It had been a gift from his Daddy, who had made it especially for him. He loved the harness so much that sometimes he wore it even when he wasn’t playing drums. His Daddy had a harness too (even though he didn’t play drums at all) and most of their other friends had harnesses and other leather clothing as well.

Playing the drum at the temple didn’t pay very well, but Willie didn’t mind. Shortly after he had attained manhood and left his parents’ house he had started living with his Daddy, an older gentleman who made a good living as a successful astrologer.

One winter night, Willie and his Daddy were lying in bed, cradled in each other’s arms. Willie, feeling very contented, looked out the window at the starry sky. Suddenly he saw one star grow brighter and brighter, until it blazed with a radiance he had never seen before. As he drifted off to sleep holding his Daddy, he thought to himself that the star could have symbolized the love he and his Daddy shared.

The next day Willie had just finished playing his drum when his Daddy suddenly appeared at the temple. “Willie, take your drum and come with me,” said his Daddy. “We’re going on a long journey.” The King had seen the same star that Willie and his Daddy had seen the night before, and had asked his Daddy’s company (Weisman, Weisman and Weisman Astrological Consultants P.A.) to investigate it.

Day and night, the star continued to blaze in the sky as Willie, his Daddy and his Daddy’s two partners followed it for twelve days. Finally, it led them to a tiny stable behind an inn in an obscure village. In the stable, among the animals and the stablehands, there was a young woman, Mary, sitting on a bale of hay nursing a baby! Willie had never seen such a sight before. But what was even more incredible was that his Daddy and his Daddy’s partners knelt down before the mother and child and presented them with rare and precious gifts. Willie didn’t understand at all what was happening.

Willie’s Daddy, seeing the look of puzzlement on his face, took him aside. He explained that he and his partners had all had a dream telling them that this child was the long-awaited Hebrew Moshiac, or Messiah, who was born to remind all people everywhere of the common humanity they share.

Willie was amazed to hear this. He understood how important this was, and he felt both honored to be in the presence of this child and ashamed that he had no gift to bring, as his Daddy had. He went over to Mary intending to apologize. But before he could say anything, Mary spoke to him. “Thank you for coming here, Willie. You honor my child with your presence. Your Daddy told me all about you.” “He did?” Willie suddenly felt uneasy; many people in that time didn’t approve of Daddy/boy relationships, or people who wore harnesses even when they didn’t need to. Mary, who was wise beyond her years, sensed his discomfort and said, “Yes, and don’t you ever worry or feel ashamed of who you are. You have every right to be part of this holy event; you are just as much a brother to this child as is any other person.

“This child was born to be brother and friend to everyone in the whole world, in each and every tribe. I know your tribe is working on brotherhood and sisterhood in your own way. You have an idea of what brotherhood and sisterhood are all about; many people in this world don’t.”

Willie listened, fascinated, as Mary foretold some of the events in the life of her child, Jesus. He would never condemn anyone, and in fact would associate with many classes of people whom the rest of society at the time considered untouchable. History would never record whether Jesus ever married or had children. But it would record that he had many followers, including a disciple named John who would be enigmatically referred to as “the disciple Jesus loved”; scholars would argue for centuries over the exact meaning of that phrase. And they would argue over whether or not Jesus was, in fact, Moshiac. What they wouldn’t argue about was that Jesus was destined to play the most famous crucifixion scene in history.

Willie found himself lost in the wonder of Mary’s predictions. Suddenly, he remembered what he had intended to tell her: “I’m sorry I have no gift to give your son.” As he said this, an idea came to him: “Perhaps I can play my drum for him, like I do in the temple.” Mary nodded and said, “I think that would be lovely.”

As his Daddy listened with pride, Willie played his drum softly, gently and skillfully, tapping into the primal rhythms of the wind, sky, ocean, birds and animals. As he played, Mary swayed and rocked Jesus gently to the rhythm of the drum.

As they left the stable, Willie turned to his Daddy and said, “Daddy, I think we just saw something very special.” “Yes,” said his Daddy, “I think we did.”

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