Closer to Bethlehem now

December 22, 2013 at 4:13 pm Leave a comment

The inns are filling as people arrive in Bethlem for the required census. After all, who would argue with the Roman governor about such things. It would mean a new taxation likely, to add to the burden of the poor, more money from the pockets of merchants who might better afford the higher tax. Still, all whose families who hailed from Bethlehem must show up there and be counted. It mattered not that it would be a hardship. It mattered not that a woman accompanying the descendant was pregnant. Such was the case for Mary, Joseph’s betrothed. It would be a long walk, or ride, and uncomfortable for a woman who would soon give birth, whose time was nearly come, as people would say.

The following is my version of how this night began, of finding a place at last to rest…

The roads were rocky, the way hilly, and Mary and Joseph had to find places to stop at night along the way. He could see that Mary had become evern more uncomfortable now and so he insisted that she ride on the donkey awhile. Hard work for the beast, he knew, but unavoidable and necessary. The donkey stepped along carefully along the road as if he knew the load he carried.

As they approached the city, it was clear that Mary would need a place to rest. She looked tired and sometimes she whimpered a bit wih pain, but she tried to smile when he asked about how she was doing.

“Hold on, Mary, ” he said. “l’ll find a place.”  It was more in desperation and concern the closer they got to the city. Knowing nothing about childbirth, except what he might have heard from others, he had a sense that the baby would make his appearance very soon. Yes, they knew it would be a boy; they didn’t even have to pick a name. They wouldn’t have to abide by family traditions this time, though family members would expect it to be so. It was already decided. Jesus, he thought. The Saviour we have been waiting for.

Where! thought Joseph, wanting a place of privacy for his beloved. Where indeed? He asked at one door after another, but all inns were full and it was too far now to find their relatives, so he must find a place. It’s up to me. Again he trusted that God would take care of them and their, rather his baby.

One innkeeper looked troubled as he saw the woman sitting on the donkey, obviously near her time. Maybe it is her time. “No, my inn is full.” He scratched his head. “but I have a shelter out back for the donkeys and my sheep. There’s some fresh straw. You can rest there.”

The man led them to a place behind his inn, away from the noisy people waiting out front. Away from the throngs in the street who were about to pitch tents or stay in the open. Mary clutched her robe around her and shuddered as another pain shot through her.

To be continued…

Image

my creche, awaiting the birth of the Saviour

© Carolyn R. Wilker

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Entry filed under: Christmas, culture, government, history, photography, travel. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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