A Christmas Story

Joseph walks while Mary, 9 months pregnant, rides sideways on a donkey feeling every jolt, every rock in the road

joseph-and-maryWhen they arrive the small hamlet of Bethlehem is swollen from an influx of travelers. The inn is full. The stable is crowded with the guests’ animals. It’s late, everyone is asleep, and there is no room for Mary and Joseph

Fortunately the innkeeper allows them to squeeze out a small space among the animals

The stench is pungent and it’s humid. A small oil lamp lit by the innkeeper, flickers to dance shadows on the walls. A disquieting place for a woman in the last month of childbirth. Far from what Mary had expected for her firstborn

But Mary makes no complaint. She is just glad to finally get off the donkey. She leans back against the wall, her feet swollen, back aching, contractions growing

Joseph looks around. Not a minute to lose. A feeding trough would have to make do for a crib. His robe became a blanket

It’s near. Mary pushes with all her strength. Joseph places his robe beneath her and with a final push her labor is over

He cries. Mary bares her breast and reaches for the baby. She lays him on her chest and his cries subside. Deity nursing from a young maiden’s breast

Joseph sits exhausted, silent, full of wonder

Tears pool in Mary’s eyes. She touches his tiny hand. She looks up at Joseph and through a watery veil, their souls touch. It has been a long 85 mile journey

Where you would have expected angels there were only flies. Where you would have expected heads of state, there were only donkeys, a few haltered cows and a furtive scurry of curious barn mice

Except for Joseph there was no one to share Mary’s pain. Or her joy. Yes there were angels announcing Jesus’ arrival–but only to a band of blue-collar shepherds. And yes, a magnificent star shone in the sky to mark his birthplace but only 3 foreigners bothered to look up and follow it

In the little town of Bethlehem…that one silent night…the royal birth of Jesus tiptoed quietly by…as the world slept

 

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