The decree for the census was abrupt and absolute, as the decrees from Rome always are. There is little time to prepare, but maybe that’s a good thing; with more time to think about this, you would probably become angrier. You leave behind a business you have worked hard to establish and build. You hope it will still be standing when you return. By putting entire populations on the move, the Romans have left all towns and settlements vulnerable and unstable.
But already your business has suffered. When your betrothed returned from visiting her mother’s cousin, the pregnancy was obvious for all to see. That day, you lost standing and credibility. You value your integrity.
But you also fear God, and when an angel of God broke into your dreams, your whole life shifted forever. Now, this. A young wife days from giving birth, a journey that will put you both on a road open to bandits and who knows what else, with all the unusual traveling of families, with all the anxious fellow wanderers. Not long ago, you were a tradesman with a decent future and a good arrangement for marriage. Today, you walk beside her, where she leans into her seat on the donkey and endures, along with you, the shaming stares of neighbors. In a way, you will be relieved to get swallowed into the groups of pilgrims and become anonymous, just a man and his pregnant wife.
What do you fear?
What do you long for?