Imagine if you will, being in that stable and watching Mary and Joseph enter in, telling you of the arduous journey, the hassle of having to come all this way just to be counted. Joseph angrily speaks of the lack of hospitality in Bethlehem, especially by the innkeeper who sent him out to the stables, a place that he called “good enough for the likes of you.”
As I place myself in the story I imagine being the stablehand. Joseph presses a coin into my hand. “It’s not much, but will it insure our stay while she gives birth?” I hand him back his coin and assure him that my meager dwelling is his for no charge. Though married I have no children of my own and so I’m eager to help out. The chance to welcome a child into the world, even one who is not my own, is one to savor.
I run to yell at my boss, the innkeeper, “The least you could do is give them some blankets for the baby, you heartless miser!” That’s the edited version. I’m angry at his lack of welcoming the stranger.
I return with some thin sheets, swaddling clothes, and Mary is grateful. In time Mary brings forth the baby and Joseph hands him to me to clean and wrap as he tends to his wife.
I am overwhelmed by holding the child. He cries and I hold him after taking that first breath of air. He calms down and I hold him closely and when I look down he smiles at me contentedly as if I am enough for him.
I realize that I no longer need to hold another child as it is clear that this child was born not just for Mary and Joseph but also for me.
Perhaps better stated, each child I hold needs to feel the same love from me that this child gives to me.
I hand the child to his father and he lays him in his mother’s arms. They look with wonder, nay more than wonder, at this child. They are overwhelmed too, much more than I am. I place a hand on Joseph’s shoulder. “If you need anything else, let me know.”
Each day I get that invitation to be with this Holy Family and to be filled with wonder. This child born “for the likes of me” in meagerness is all I will ever need. Do I remember my image of the manger and where I am called long after this meditation?
It is January. As the season grows shorter I remember the call. Who will come to my stable today? I wait to welcome and to be overwhelmed by joy.