The Ballad of Befana

Befana the Housewife, scrubbing her pane,

Saw three old sages ride down the lane,

Saw three grey travelers pass her door –

Gaspar, Balthazar, Melchoir.

“Where journey you, sirs?” she asked of them.

Balthazar answered, “To Bethlehem,

For we have news of a marvellous thing.

Born in a stable is Christ the King.”

“Give Him my welcome!”

Then Gaspar smiled,

“Come with us, mistress, to greet the Child.”

“Oh, happily, happily would I fare,

Were my dusting through and I’d polished the stair.”

Old Melchior leaned on his saddle horn.

“Then send but a gift to the small Newborn.”

“Oh, gladly, gladly I’d send Him one,

Were the hearthstone swept and my weaving done.

“As soon as ever I’ve baked my bread,

I’ll fetch Him a pillow for His head,

And a coverlet too,” Befana said.

“When the rooms are aired and the linen dry,

I’ll look at the Babe.”

But the Three rode by.

She worked for a day and a night and a day,

Then, gifts in her hand, took up her way.

But she never could find where the Christ Child lay.

And still she wanders at Christmastide,

Houseless, whose house was all her pride,

Whose heart was tardy, whose gifts were late;

Wanders, and knocks at every gate,

Crying, “Good people, the bells begin!

Put off your toiling and let love in.”


     – Phyllis McGinley

Do you take the time to utilise opportunities?  Do you make time in your heart and in your lives for friends and loved ones?  Or do you let other things take precedence?

The above story is an Epiphany Legend, and no doubt there is some one in your life to whom this story might apply?  Someone that spends too much time cleaning instead of actually living life?  Or someone who spends too much time in the kitchen?  Do the dishes over take your life?  Does cooking consume your every day life? 

This story also reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha, where Mary spent time listening to what Jesus said, but Martha was too busy in the kitchen to spend time.  Jesus said to Martha that Mary is doing the right thing, listening, what she wants to do.  That was a parable story about people choosing to be busy because they want to, but who then blame other people.

Published by Alice Letts

Online training for parents and children. Online piano and music tutoring. Online tutoring for English as a Second Language (ESOL) with an emphasis on pronunciation. Online meditation coaching for parents and how to incorporate meditation into daily family life.

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