At Thanksgiving I had the good fortune to travel to see a side of my family that I see mainly at weddings and funerals. Age-wise, my cousins and I are now at the top of the family ladder (my cousin’s granddaughter guessed that I am 800 years old). We met at the luxurious mountain home of a well-off cousin for a gourmet meal. It was a happy time and included invitations to make use of the extra bedrooms for longer stays.

After a satisfying visit, we travelled into the countryside to meet our newest family member, a rescue horse named Jose who had an appointment for two new pairs of shoes. Lovely rolling hills were dotted with deep-red barns and white fences. The air was crisp, the leaves were crunchy and a red setter came over for a friendly sniff. The sun cast a golden glow over the whole scene as the horses enjoyed their late-afternoon freedom.

Wandering through the empty stables, we looked up to find a cat, keeping a keen watch over everything from a makeshift perch. I marveled that even this raggedy old feline had a place in society, companions to spend the night with and a place to call home. Although the stalls were clean and filled with fresh hay, the smell of a stable is still the smell of a stable — earthy and elemental. As the sun dropped, the horses instinctively began leaving the field for the safety of their enclosure. One by one, and two by two they arrived at the stable door, some walking calmly, some trying to push their peers aside to make sure they got a room at the inn.

As the day wound down, there was no way I could escape thinking of a how it must have been in the over-crowded city of Bethlehem. The rich snug in their beds; young Mary deep in labor, huddled with Joseph, both far from friends, family and assistance. This had to be the most terrifying, agonizing, amazing night of their life together. Full of worry for the present, full of fear for the future, full of awe at the miracle, full of wonder, love and joy for the child. The star above pointed to the miracle below, and hope for the world was born anew.

~ Barbara H.

“And the angel said to them,
Fear not: for, behold,

I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people.”