“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.” ~Luke 2:1-3
Tonight in Australia it is Census night; a once every five year opportunity to update the information that the Bureau of Statistics keeps on the population of Australian.
I worked as a census collector last census and was part of the huge army who distributed a census form to EVERY household in the country. Quite a big achievement; we are a sparsely populated but huge continent. Then the job of collecting every one of those census forms after census night- every form to be accounted for- despite rain, rabid dogs (who eat census forms and collectors), non-compliant householders, lack of porch lighting, winding country roads (also known as pot- hole filled goat tracks), inaccurate maps, vandalised street signs, lack of house numbering- you get the idea?
This census is different. I’m not working as a collector - I can relax. I’ve had my little envelope beside the computer for a few days - quite keen this time to do the census online instead of fill it in as a cumbersome physical document. I open the website and am quite thrilled at how easy it is to log on….the 13 digit form number works, and so does the 12 digit individual form identification number. So far so good! I fill in the first few questions to reveal….question, after question, after question, after question.
Birth date, how old am I, country of birth for me, for my parents , for my dog….well not quite. Occupation, qualifications, current job, job title, hours of work, how I traveled to work, religion, wage…the questions seem never ending and I am beginning to tire of the intrusion on my time…… and then my mind sees another census….another time…..another place.
No computers. No forms. A time when people had to physically travel to their place of birth to be counted. To travel vast distances, mostly on foot- walking for many, many days to reach their appointed destination in due time for the counting. I see a heavily pregnant woman atop a donkey. How uncomfortable that journey must have been as the animal jolted, and rocked and shook her. Those who have been pregnant will recall the common aches and pains of stretched skin, ligaments and muscles strained to the limits of their ability to accommodate the growing life within. Lungs straining to expand fully; the pressure of little feet pushing and kicking; the knowledge of impending arrival. And what precious cargo this woman carried!
A donkey led by Joseph as he navigated dirt roads. I imagine he moved quickly to reduce their travel time, but was also mindful of the discomfort Mary would have felt. See it- imagine it- Mary, Joseph and the light of the world- en route to fulfill the destiny ordained for them from the beginning of time. Yes- a census of divine proportion.
© 2011 Giving Thanks Daily, Sue King