I’ll be signing off the blog for a Christmas break. I would leave you imagining anew, a story for the ages. . .
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. The Empire decreed that everyone was to return to the town of their birth to be enrolled.
So it was that Joseph and Mary were on the road that Christmas time. Joe drove down the road in Joe’s rusty Ford pickup, “Joe’s Fix-it” hand painted on the door. Mary was very pregnant. She had told Joe of an event beyond human words: an angel, a child, a savior. What was he to make of it? What was anyone to make of it?
Joe was nervous. Every bump in the road seemed to risk the beginning of labor pains. They arrived at Bethlehem, Joe’s hometown. Joe went from relative to relative seeking a place to stay. One recognized that Joe was a long lost cousin. But he was busy doing year end and couldn’t be moved. Another looked at Joe and Mary’s clothes and the old pickup and shut the door in their faces.
Joe stopped the truck in front of the Bethlehem Lodge. But they turned him away. They went to the Bethlehem Inn. The concierge said, “We’re really busy here. We really have no place for you.” But then as Joe and Mary were heading for the door, the concierge added: “Wait a minute. We do have underground parking here. It would be out of the wind for you, at least. And if anyone asks you what you’re doing, you tell them that Anna says it’s ok. You could stay there for the night–maybe two.”
Joe did what he could. He parked the truck in the lot. He made a makeshift tent out of drop sheets and some framing lumber. There that night, beside the Ford, in a parking garage beneath the Bethlehem Inn, Mary gave birth to the child.
That night it just so happened that truckers were parked at the Hitching Post. They were together in the coffee shop talking about the road, about families far away, about a hockey season that wasn’t going well for the Bethlehem Bandits. That night, the truckers–pretty no nonsense men and women–heard something they could never explain to their friends and family no matter how hard they tried. What they knew that night was that they had to find their way to Bethlehem, to a baby in underground parking. Somehow, to their own surprise, perhaps; they found their way. What they found was but a makeshift tent beside an old pickup truck with Joe’s Fix It, hand painted on the door. But what they found within the tent, was a baby. Did they each have a moment to hold the child? Did they find themselves humming to the child old songs of faith their grandmothers had taught them as children? What happened to them inside that make-shift tent?
Whatever happened, the truckers went back to their rigs that night with a new light in their eyes. They would say of that night to anyone who asked: “We were touched by God.” And while they would have their days when life was far from easy, and the road ahead less than clear; these women and men were never quite the same.
Have a Blessed Christmas.
The Adoration of the Shepherds, Caravaggio (1609), www.wga.hu