We never hear about the innkeeper, the nameless one who on a dark, desert night, long, long ago said ‘no’ to two weary travelers – one with his face creased with the worry and dust of travel, the other clearly pregnant. Perhaps he was too tired, or too busy, to find an extra spot in a crowded room. Perhaps the needs of demanding guests filled his heart with urgency and worry. Perhaps the pantry shelves were nearly bare. Perhaps the burdens of the day were balanced so precariously on his shoulders that he felt he could not absorb the weight of two strangers from afar. Perhaps.
Since that long-ago night, decades and centuries have tumbled and spun, and tonight we find ourselves again on the brink of celebrating the nativity of the One who was born on that desert night so long ago, who was born outside the inn, who was born – outside. As we gather around heart and home with family and friends, may we remember that this spinning earth is still full of those who wander in search of shelter, food, safety…and the earth is still full of outsiders. When one wanders our way – perhaps a neighbor in need, or perhaps a stranger from afar – may we lay down our burdens and open welcoming arms knowing that our Lord Jesus often comes to us in the guise of the lowly, the poor, the outsider. On this night of nights, and on every night, may we be ready to absorb the weight of Him whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. May we be ready to welcome each of His – and our – brothers and sisters.
Postscript: An unintentional and unplanned Advent haitus for this blog is now over. I’ll soon be back at it regularly – but first, let us celebrate! A most joyous and blessed Christmas to each of you… (You can check out our Community News webpage for photos our our celebration here at the monastery.)