Living in a tourist area has given me a new appreciation for one little aspect of the Nativity account. I know innkeepers now, along with people who run gift shops and clean hotel rooms and serve in restaurants. Theirs are bi-polar lives: a manic pace in the summer, a dearth of activity in the winter. My friends here are people who like people: they enjoy their visitors and customers; they like the conversations and the interchanges with vacationers. But I can tell you that they get tired. Nearly two million people come here in the summer and fall, and it’s a grueling pace to keep.
For many years I’ve written a Christmas poem. Now that I know a few innkeepers, the words from Luke caught my eye this season as I read through the advent account. Here’s imagining…
“..and everyone went to their own town to register…While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room available for them in the inn.” Luke 2:3,7
They grow weary of crowds, of laundry relentless
of chatter continual, the same questions again and again
When there are no rooms, there’s little to be done
The sty, with the stink of animals
at least was something
Who doesn’t know, he was surely thinking
that the town would be full, the hotels all arranged months ahead.
But here is a man, and here is a woman
so ready to burst, so weary.
A midwife had to be found
blood and muffled screams
the girl alone
laboring with strangers
and then shepherds with stories
searching for a baby
chiding the man for the stable
saying give them a better place
saying these people are better than they seem