The Christmas Story as Told by the Innkeeper
Today we are continuing our Christmas Character Series. Sister Natalie Pezzenti wrote today's creative composition, and Sister Shannon Martorana provided the artwork.
So there I was, tending to the dozens of guests at my inn late one night, milling about doing my usual routine. "Need another pillow? Want something else to eat?" I'd ask my visitors.
But this night, something was different; the guests at my inn (Bethlehem's finest), were whispering and chatting with excitement in their voices. One guest even made sure to point out how bright the North Star was above us, reminding me it wasn't an ordinary star.
I had been so busy tending to my guests, and the donkeys that many brought with them, that I couldn't believe the time. Never had I had so many guests at the inn, and I was about to pass out with exhaustion. But just as I had that thought, I heard a knock at the lobby door. "Another guest?" I questioned. There simply wasn't a way for me to take another person in to my humble hotel.
I put down the plates I was carrying and grumbled along to the door. There, on the other side, was a couple who I didn't recognize. The man, who introduced himself as Joseph, pointed to his wife on their donkey and talked so fast I could barely keep up.
"Mary, my wife—pregnant—must find a place to stay—running out of time before our son is born," he said as he tried to catch his breath.
I knew immediately that this woman was in need of help. But where could I put them? I simply didn't have a single bed to spare and I couldn't just ask some of my high-paying customers to give up their rooms for this poor couple who had been wandering along. What would they write in their reviews of my inn? Surely I wouldn't get five stars.
But, it wasn't just not having the room—I was worried that I might have to help in the delivery of this baby, and I certainly didn't have the skillset of a doctor or nurse. Plus, they needed to be somewhere peaceful, not among drunken night owls in my inn.
I wanted to help—truly I did. But, the best I could do was scratch my head, apologize for not having a room, and point them to the hillside where several caves sat. Some of my shepherd friends would take breaks there while tending their flocks. I knew it wasn't much, but at least it would allow them to rest, unbothered, until I could find a doctor the next day. I apologized one last time and sent them on their way.
As I crawled into bed that night, I was overwhelmed with concern for the young couple. Just as I was about to fall asleep, a peace came over me that I had never felt before. It felt like love and joy and excitement all rolled into one.
I learned the next morning, from those same gossiping guests of mine, that Mary had her son. She named the child Jesus, a name I knew I would never forget. The news traveled fast to my inn and to the corners of our town.
From time to time over the years, I'd hear stories about Jesus—he indeed was a special man. I tried on several occasions to find him along his journeys and tell him how I met his parents as he was about to be born, but as my inn grew more popular, I never was able to get away.
Perhaps God brought the small family of three to my doorstep as a reminder to me that I must help others in the future. From then on out, I never turned away anyone who needed a place to stay.
Stay tuned the rest of the week for more Christmas stories "as told by!" If you've enjoyed these so far, please leave a comment of encouragement for the writers and artists!