O Holy Night

O Holy Night.


———————–


The moon was cast high in the sky, the glow descending upon all the hills of the small village of Bethlehem. A chill swept through the town, the cold glistening off lamp posts, cobble stone pathways. The breath of the donkey a cloud of mist, huffing and whining as he carried Her, belly full with the Divine.


Inside, Joseph began to panic. He led the donkey through the narrow streets, the moon as his light. He could feel his heart beat faster as light after light went out in the windows of the homes. He would look to Her, eyes closed, hand gripped tightly around the reins of the donkey. She was unafraid, trusting him, trusting in the plans of the Spirit. They continued on in silence, the only sound their feet beneath them, the stone of the paths almost coming to an end.


The man who opened the door to the inn had a long, gray beard. His eyes were kind, apologetic.


No, there is no room here.


Joseph bowed his head, began to turn away, when the door reopened. His stable, he said, right down the path. The animals are kind, he said, and at least it’s warm.

Joseph turned his gaze to his Lady, not wanting to accept, but knowing they were obligated. Her eyes were closed still, her hand spread across her belly, a calmness to her that reached his core.


Donkey was the first to lie down, the moment She climbed down from his back, he collapsed into the soft hay. He nudged her, offering her some hay too, and she smiled and pat his head, told him he’s a good donkey, just what he needed to hear before closing his eyes.


Joseph set down their belongings and greeted the animals. The lights were dim, but he could make out all the eyes watching them. Horses and sheep and chickens and cows. Some huffed, some moaned, in greeting, but none moved. Joseph put blankets on top of the hay, helped Her lie down. He broke off some bread that had been in their sacks, then went to be next to Her.


She took the bread and ate silently, her whole self exhausted from the trip. She took his hand and placed it on her belly, smiled, asked him if he felt the baby move too. He did. He did, and his heart began to race again, the Creator jumping beneath his fingertips, warmth pouring through him.


“Are you ok? He asks Her.

“Yes. Yes I am,” she nods at him, takes his hand now and holds it. They stay like this for a while, the silence of the night covering them like a blanket. With Her hand in his he feels safe, protected, as he prays she feels the same way. Once he hears her breathing even out he moves over, kneels on the hay, and begins to pray. He pours his heart out to his Maker, asking for wisdom and guidance and peace. He prays in gratitude for the stable, tears escaping his eyes when he thinks of Her, her strength, her resilience, her fiat.


“Joseph, it’s time,” she lifts herself up, her hand outstretched to Joseph, calling him to her. When she speaks the animals all awaken, they begin to stir, to pace in their stalls. A chicken flutters over to her, clucks a greeting, then backs away. They, too, are waiting. They, too, recognize what she beholds.


Joseph wants to be nervous, but when he sees Her face, her peace, he takes a deep breath and prays for the same grace.


Sweat lines her brow, she gathers her strength and pushes, and then He is here, small and wiggly and screaming. Joseph wraps Him in a blanket and hands him to her, where he is silenced at her breast. Tears are streaming down both their faces as they watch their son drink freely from his mother. Some animals have left their stalls and await at her feet, staring wondrously at this newborn baby. It is brighter in this manger now. It is warmer. It is perfect.


They weep together, the parents of Jesus, as they behold their son. His dark mop of hair, his olive skin, his almond eyes and rosy cheeks. His small nose and tiny fingers. Their hearts burn within them, a fire racing through their blood. He is here. He has come.


The star rises above them, a light to all the nations, for all to see. And on this night, all do see. The wise leave the comfort of their beds behind, kiss their wives and children goodbye as they set out to find him.


The wise still seek Him. And all who seek him find Him.


This baby. On this night. This holy, marvelous, night. Our King has come.

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