Bound by Mystery – a poem by the late Lyman Randall

December 18, 2015
By Marcy Shortuse


A burdened couple plodding

toward a distant town,

not their choice but law

requiring registration

at his place of birth

She was expecting soon,

and he with hidden fears

about his love for her

and the father of her child.

He knew it wasn’t his …

and then to find no place

to rest her as her labor grew.

Desperation led them

to the closest roof, an inn

already full. They went out back.

She tried to tell him what to do

to help her birth her child;

but he held back, afraid.

His carpentry had not prepared

him for this kind of work.

They labored long, she with pain

and he with his own suffering,

until the miracle occurred …

a birth.

A healthy boy … so much

like any other, yet so different.

He asked himself: Would they

grow closer now she had her son?

What if her need of him was done?

And what was he prepared to say to others’ questions …

and his own?

She handed him the boy.

He was at first afraid to take

him in his arms … and then

into his life … but both he did

with Mary’s

calm encouragement.

He slowly came to love them both,

the three of them becoming one

a family made into a whole by God.

His gratitude for blessings grew

into abundance recognized.

Who was this child now grown,

who worked with him as carpenters?

He made no claim of privilege,

but yet he was a mystery

as common as both life and love.

Both died eventually,

the one still questioning …

the other with clear certainty

about who was the father

and the son of both of them.

Lyman Randall

November 2008