Saturday, December 11, 2010
One year, we were invited to
a new church for their Christmas pageant. The kids
were all dressed up and we were excited as we had heard
how pretty the music was and the orchestra and the choir.
So we went into the church and it was packed and we were looking
for seats, and people were saving seats for others, and the pastor
was pleading for people to sit closer together. But, no one
would move and for us there was no room in the church to see
the pageant. So we left. On the way home we talked to our
young family how it felt to have no room in the inn. How
the son God had to be born in a stable. Because no one would
make room for God. Our little children suddenly understood
What that meant in a new way. I love it when real life gives us
Trouble At The Inn
Wally was nine that year and in the second grade,
though he should have been in the fourth. Most people in town
knew that he had difficulty in keeping up. He was big and clumsy, slow in
movement and mind. Still, Wally was well liked by the other children in his class, all
of whom were smaller than he, though the boys had trouble hiding their irritation when
Wally would ask to play ball with them---or play any game for that matter in which winning
was most important.
Most often they would find a way to keep him out, but Wally would hang around anyway---not
sulking, just hoping. He was always a helpful boy, a willing and smiling
one, and the natural protector, paradoxically, the underdog. Sometimes if the older boys chased the younger ones away, it would always be Wally who'd say, "Can't they stay? They're no bother."
Wally fancied the idea of being a shepherd with a flute in the Christmas pageant that
year, but the play's director, Miss Lumbard, assigned him to a more important role.
After all, she reasoned, the innkeeper did not have too many lines and Wally's size would
make his refusal of lodgings to Joseph more forceful.
And so it happened that the usual large audience gathered for the town's yearly
extravaganza of creches, beards, crowns, halos and a whole stage full of squeaky voices.
No one on stage or off was more caught up in the magic of the night than Wallace Purling.
They said later that he stood in the wings and watched the performance with such fascination
that from time to time Miss Lumbard had to make sure he didn't wander onstage before
Then the time came when Joseph appeared, slowly, tenderly guiding Mary to the door of the inn.
Joseph knocked hard on the wooden door set into the painted backdrop. Wally the Innkeeper
was there, waiting.
"What do you want?" demanded Wally, swinging the door open with a brusque gesture.
"We seek lodging."
"Seek it elsewhere." Wally looked straight ahead but spoke vigorously. "The inn is filled."
"Sir, we have asked everywhere in vain. We have traveled far and are very weary."
"There is no room in this inn for you." Wally looked properly stern.
"Please, good innkeeper, this is my wife, Mary. She is heavy with child and needs a place to rest.
Surely you must have some small corner for her. She is so tired."
Now, for the first time, the Innkeeper relaxed his stiff stance and looked down at Mary.
With that, there was a long pause, long enough to make the audience a bit tense with
"No! Be gone!" the prompter whispered from the wings.
"No!" Wally repeated automatically. "Be gone!
Joseph placed his arm around Mary and Mary laid her head upon her husband's shoulder and the two of them started to move away. The Innkeeper did not return inside his inn, however.
Wally stood there in in the doorway, watching the forlorn couple. His mouth was open, his brow
creased with concern, his eyes filling unmistakably with tears.
And suddenly this Christmas pageant became different from all others.
"Don't go, Joseph," Wally called out. "Bring Mary back." And Wallace Purling's
face grew into a bright smile. "You can have my room."
---Christmas Stories for the Heart---
written by Dina Donohue
Images from Free Snow Pictures.
We never have snow.