The Voice of the Innkeeper’s Wife
Of course, we had all heard the prophecy, but we, like everyone else, never believed that anything important could ever come out of Bethlehem — nothing of any worth, certainly nothing that would impact the whole world.
How wrong we were. ..
What a weekend it has been! We have been rushed off our feet; hardly had time to draw breath. You see, recently the Emperor in his wisdom (or lack of it) sent everyone back to their home town to be counted. Stupid idea, if you ask me, but I guess no-one is asking me...
Our small, poor, unimportant village has suddenly been overrun with people. Every inn and tavern, including ours, is packed to the rafters. We aren’t complaining; it is good for business. We are not going to turn the extra cash down, are we? But it has been manic.
At one point, my husband instructed me to get a sign to tell people we are full. But before I got around to that, there came a knock at the door that changed everything.
Before me stood a young woman — heavily pregnant, with a look of exhaustion etched all over her face. She was aided by an older man and they had a small, weary-looking donkey in tow. They wanted — no, they needed — a room, somewhere, anywhere, so that the woman could rest her head. Looking at her, it was clear that it wouldn’t be long before her
child would be greeting the world.
As a woman a of faith, my heart was touched. What could I do to help, to offer some respite from her immediate plight? I explained how sorry I was, that all our rooms were full, but that if she wanted, we had a stable round the back that she could use. It was not five—star by any stretch of the imagination, it wasn’t even very clean, but at least it had a
roof that didn’t leak.
She smiled and silently nodded her approval and her gratitude, and I led the way. We didn’t make pleasant small talk; she had bigger things to concentrate on, like going into labour.
I settled her down with some clean hay on which she could rest her head, then told her I would be back with a midwife, some towels and some hot water. “Sit tight!” I instructed them both.
I ran, panic-stricken really. After all, it’s not every day that someone is giving birth in your barn! I sent a kitchen hand to call the midwife, then I raided the airing cupboard for towels and fetched the water.
By the time I returned, labour was in full swing. I assisted where I could, wiping the young mother’s forehead and offering words of encouragement. Then, after what seemed like an age, although it probably wasn’t, I began to see a tiny head followed by the body of a healthy-looking baby boy.
The midwife did what was needed, wrapped the child in a towel and gave him to his mother.
There, in that moment, I somehow knew that I was in the company of someone special. Since then I have strangely sensed that all the prophecies we have heard are beginning to be fulfilled.
God of welcome,
you prepared a welcome for your son.
Help me to offer a welcome to all people,
so that they can experience your unconditional love.