Published January 09, 2008 by
"I never saw the town so crowded," said Joseph as they came to the market place. Men, women, and children filled the streets.
Little babies and small children cried because they were so tired and homesick. Mary looked at the little ones with gentle eyes.
"I am glad my baby is not here yet," she thought. "These poor children are having a hard time."
Joseph led his donkey to the inn. He asked for a good room.
"The best you have, please," he said to the innkeeper. "My wife is very tired and needs to rest."
The innkeeper only laughed in a disagreeable way.
"Dozens have been ahead of you," he said. "All wanted good rooms. But now many of them are glad for a mat on the floor."
"You mean you have no rooms?" cried Joseph. The innkeeper shook his head crossly. He pointed outside.
"You have eyes. Don't you see the crowd on the street?"
"But my wife is very tired," pleaded Joseph. "She has had a long and tiresome trip. She must have a place to rest."
"Then you had better be hunting one," answered the innkeeper, paying no attention to the young wife. Mary's face was pale and her eyes were heavy. Her back ached from the long, jogging ride.
"Do not worry, Joseph," she said when he came back, looking disappointed. "I am young and strong... Besides, I feel that the Lord is with us. He will not let us be harmed."
Up and down the street went Joseph, leading the patient, shaggy donkey.
"Is there no room?" he asked everywhere. "Don't you have even a small room?"
At last Joseph gave up trying to find a room for the night.
There was a stable back of one inn. "You may sleep in my barn if you wish," said the innkeeper.
Joseph felt sad that his wife must sleep in a stable with the animals. But Mary did not mind.
"I have always loved farm animals," she said.
"These sheep and cows and donkeys will not hurt me. See how kindly they look at me! "
Joseph spread hay on the stable floor.
He put his robe on top of the hay.
"Lie here and rest, dear Mary," he said. Mary lay down on the hay. It felt soft to her tired body. It had a sweet, clean smell.
The stable had no roof, and Mary could look up into the night sky.
"The stars are very bright tonight," she said to her husband. "See that one just above us! Did you ever see a star so big and bright?"
"I never did," answered Joseph.
"I like it out here in the stable," thought Mary. "It is peaceful and quiet. There is a holy feeling in my heart."
Looking up at the sky reminded her of the angel who had spoken to her. She remembered the shining way he had looked, and the great promise he had made.
"This is going to be a wonderful night," she whispered. She felt sure that her baby would come tonight. What a great baby gift.
The stars kept shining above the stable.