Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Trouble at the Inn

I know Christmas is past for this season, but this story is good and it is never too late to be reminded of these kinds of things in order to keep our hearts open and tender to what is happening around us.

Trouble at the Inn
by Dina Donahue

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 like by the other children in his class, all of whom were smaller than he, though the boys has 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, of the underdog. Sometime 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 lodging to Joseph more forceful.

And so it happened that the usual large audience gathered for the town’s extravaganza of crèches, 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 his cue.

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 embarrassment.

“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 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 the 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.”

Trouble at the Inn
by Dina Donahue
From Christmas Stories for the Heart (compiled b y Alice Gray)
Multnomah Publishers

The inn keeper did have a choice, though it was a hard one, and he could have chosen this route. We have a choice in almost every situation we are in, everyday, and sometimes it will be hard for us to make that choice, but it still is the right thing for us to do and that is where God gets the most glory because we show off His amazing power in a life that is changed. May our hearts be tender enough to respond to His leading.

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