We understand stories based on our own life experience. We find meaning based on what we have been taught to value. I’ve long read the story of Joseph and his brothers from a perspective similar to that of Ralph Milton, and his version in “Living God’s Way – Bible stories retold for children in today’s world.”
I always get weepy near the end, because I have known the pain of feeling family divided and I highly value healing and reconciliation.
And yet, stories can be opened up to us in fresh ways through the experience and values of another. Today I want to share another perspective on this story from David Kim-Craig in this seasons Gathering magazine. Here’s the story:
“Joseph was special and different. Joseph was honest and always told the truth. Joseph was smart and thoughtful. Joseph had wonderful dreams, the kinds you have when you sleep and the kinds you have when you’re awake. In his sleep, Joseph would dream of the sun and moon and stars all dancing together in the sky. Joseph would dream about wheat coming alive and walking around on the field. When he was awake, Joseph would dram about being a great person, about travelling to distant lands, about living in beautiful castles, and about being a person others looked up to.
But Joseph was special in another way, too. Being very honest, he would not hide this from his family. Joseph told his brothers he didn’t want to wrestle with them or play war games. He wanted to play with his sister Dinah, to put on makeup and dress up like a princess. And Joseph didn’t want to be called Joseph. He wanted to be called Josephine, or… Jo. Jo’s…father loved him very much. And while his brothers made fun of him, Jo’s dad thought Jo was perfect just the way he was, a beautiful little princess boy.
One day, Jo’s dad, Jacob, decided to do something very special for his special son: he bought him a very beautiful, very sparkly, very special dress. It had long sleeves, ribbons of all colours sewn here and there, and bells that sparkled and jungled. Jo loved his new long-sleeved gown. But his brothers were embarrassed. They thought all boys should wear short tunics. They didn’t want a brother who dressed like a girl. So, they didn’t talk to Jo anymore and Jo was sad about that.
One day, Jo had a dream. In his dream, all his brothers crowded around him. They were not teasing or pushing him or making fun of him. They were bending down to touch his robe because they thought it was beautiful. Jo had another dream; this time, his mother and father, and his brothers and sisters were sparkling ornaments on his dress, shining like the lights in the sky.
Despite his dreams, Jo’s brothers didn’t like him any better. In fact, they began to treat him even worse. Only day, while they were tending their sheep far from home, they beat him up and threw him in a deep pit. They would have hurt him even worse, except a group of traders rescued him and took him to a land far, far away. In Jo’s new home, people did not hate him for what he wore or because he felt more like a girl. Instead, they recognized his gifts. They respected his honesty. They shared his dreams. Jo was make a very important person in his new land and, because he was so honest and wise, he and his new friends grew rich and had lots to eat, even when other countries and peoples were poor and starving.
One day, Jo’s brothers came to the place where he was a ruler. They were looking for food. There was a famine back home, nothing to eat, and their whole family was starving. When they came to see Jo, they didn’t know it was him. Jo was wearing makeup and had on another beautiful robe, sparkling with gold and jewels. The brothers bent down in admiration. They knew that, with one of those jewels, they could buy enough food to feed their families for a year. Jo did not tell them who he was. He gave them some food for free, and then told them to go and bring their father and their families back with them.
When the returned with their father and families, Jo surprised them all and told them who he was. He was not angry at them anymore. When they realized what they had done to him, they were very sorry, but now they saw Jo with new eyes and respected him very much. They gathered around him in amazement. Now, they were very proud of their brother and their eyes sparkled with pride, like the stars in the sky.”
P 56-57 Gathering 2017
We live in a world where, unfortunately we have learned to fear and hate differences – with devastating results. ( Jim M. then shared the following story… )
“In the 1980’s, my family spent the summers at the family property on Salt Spring Island. Our kids spent all day on the beach with their cousins. My daughter Adele, and her cousin David, were the same age, and spent countless hours exploring the beach and nearby reefs.
They both had dreams of becoming biologists when they grew up.
David’s Dad was a successful contractor, with two construction companies in Vancouver. Both his parents were very proud of him. His grandfather was a well-respected county court judge, working in Victoria. David and his grandfather were very close.
David’s quiet, gentle demeanor was never questioned, so when he graduated, top of his class in 1990 and was heading for UBC next year, he came out of the closet and announced to his family that he was gay.
His dad rejected him on the spot. The verbal backlash was terrible. His loving grandfather announced that “there will be no queers in our family'” and from that day on, refused to have anything to do with David. His mom and dad took opposite sides and it finally led to their marriage breakup.
On January 13, 1991, David went missing. The next morning they found his body on the rocks below the Lions Gate Bridge. The pain of rejection was too much. He took what he felt was the only way out. I was celebrating my 50th birthday on January 13, 1991, when I got the call that David had jumped
to his death. Since then, my birthdays always include a quiet moment for David.”
Please pray with me: In our brokenness, Holy One, mend us. As we know our need for acceptance and belonging, open our hearts to welcome and include others. In our searching may we find a home in you – just as we are. Amen.