Considering the season, for my first creative post I chose a story written as a challenge entry in an online writing group back in 2007. The initial entry was to be only 750 words, but as my very own blog doesn't require any sort of word count restrictions, I've decided to flesh it out a bit. I hope you enjoy it.
Joseph turned to his wife, her angelic face hopeful.
“Just ask, Joseph, please.”
Head tilted, eyes shining, and a voice so very soft, Joseph took her slender hand and pressed it to his lips.
“For you, I’ll try.”
The corners of her mouth turned up, as though an angel had placed a string on each end and tugged. It made his heart skip a beat.
He knocked on the front door. A man answered, his eyes bruised with sleeplessness. “We’re full,” he said, automatically closing the door in Joseph’s face.
“Wait, please.” Joseph could hear the desperation in his voice, but didn't care any more, not if that's what stopped the innkeeper’s hand. “My wife, sir. She is in need of shelter, even if it's just a corner on the floor.”
Joseph pointed to her standing close behind. She smiled, giving a little wave before placing the hand back on her swollen belly. Mary should have been a pathetic picture, especially after traveling for so long. He couldn’t see it. She still took his breath away.
As he turned back Joseph could see the innkeeper had not been unaffected. It happened every time someone looked at his remarkable wife. No one could understand why they felt the need to help her, but Joseph knew. He knew. He watched the struggle on the exhausted man's face, a struggle which did not end well, for them. Sorrow filled his harried features as he stepped slightly aside and pointed to the milling crowd behind him.
“I’m sorry, sir," his voice quiet yet firm. "As you can see there isn’t even room for me or my family. We have given up our own rooms to perfect strangers. After all, it’s-”
“I know,” Joseph interrupted, having heard it twice before. He smiled in an effort to soften his rudeness, fully recognizing the pain it caused the innkeeper to refuse them. “It’s tax time. Thank you.”
He turned and took two steps before the innkeeper called him back. "Sir, wait. I know of a place. It's not much."
"We'll take it. We'll take anything. Please." After a few briefs words Joseph strode to his wife, feeling a bit lighter than before. “He knows of a kahn nearby. We’ll be comfortable there.”
Mary nodded, her relief noticeable only by the relaxing of her tightened lips. The labor had been coming on for some time now, yet she hadn’t complained once. Hoping to make her even a little more comfortable he urged the donkey on.
“Look there!” cried Seth.
Jacob turned his head in the direction of his young brother’s gaze. To his amazement high in the sky there was a star far brighter than any other.
“It can’t be,” he gasped.
Before he could wrap his mind around the meaning of the new star, seemingly out of nowhere a being appeared, one more glorious than any he’d ever witnessed before. The light emanating from the being shone so bright he shielded his eyes. The being spoke, it's voice quiet, yet piercing. Jacob felt each word press into the marrow of his bones.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” *
Breathtaking, extraordinary music flooded Jacob's senses. He blinked, and a whole host of heavenly beings appeared, all singing praises to the newborn. Every sense burned as though on fire, yet it was the sweetest sensation he'd ever felt.
Far too soon the vision vanished. For several seconds his body trembled with the memory. As though they were one and without a word, both Jacob and Seth turned once again toward the new star.
“Should we go?” asked Seth.
“Of course,” he replied.
The two brothers immediately set off to find the newborn. Along the way they met up with others who had witnessed the miraculous event. Not one word was uttered as they traveled, each one of their minds entirely filled with what they had seen.
It took some time, but at last they found the innkeeper.
Something about her face had left him oddly unsettled until another knock came to his door. Simon could not suppress the groan as he once again prepared to send the seekers away. "There's no room," he muttered, unwilling to look into another hopeless face, unable to wipe the memory of hers from his mind.
"Please, sir," a young man said, "we're not looking for a room."
That stopped him. His rich, brown eyes widened at the site of several shepherds on his doorstep. "Then what do you want?"
"My name is Jacob. There's a star, the new star. And there was an angel." Simon watched as the young man wiped a trembling hand over his face. "It is an impossible thing to ask, and I hardly expect you to know the answer. Do you know of a newborn baby, born this very night?"
Instantly he knew for whom they searched. He could have given them directions. It would have been easy enough. Simon truly surprised himself when he offered to show them the way.
It wasn't far to the khan. Though his footsteps were quick and sure a part of him wished the walk were endless. Then, perhaps, he wouldn't have to see her face again, no matter how much he wished to do just that. Too soon they arrived. He motioned to the shepherds, silently accepting their thanks, staying back as they entered.
A quiet murmur drifted to him, though he couldn't capture a word. At the sound of the infant’s cry his heart erupted into a pounding force inside his chest. Immediately he knew there was something different about this baby, special. Like the mother. Though he couldn’t find the words to express why, Simon knew seeing this child was far more important than anything else in the world.
As he crept to the opening of the kahn he heard the low laughter of the husband, and noticed the animals bordering the scene were strangely quiet, as though aware of the sacredness of their newest occupant. At first his view was blocked by one of the shepherds, the boy. Move, he inwardly commanded the ignorant youth. His thought quickly turned to a plea. Please, move.
How he desperately wanted – no, needed – to see this child.
As though his thoughts had been heard, the young man knelt, as did his brothers, giving the innkeeper full view of the tiny baby, and Simon’s heart was changed.
Millions of people for thousands of years have gathered in churches around the world to honor the Lord Jesus Christ.
Yet none could possibly shine a light to the simple scene in a stable where a mother, a father, and a few shepherds knelt to worship the newborn king.
* Luke 2:11-12
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