The Servant Girl and the Holy Family
The Bethlehem Inn was very busy. Caesar Augustus decreed that the whole world should be counted and everyone from the line of David was coming to Bethlehem to register. It was a crazy time. But I looked at it in a positive way. I had a job. I was in demand as a servant. I served all the people in the Inn. And since the tips were plentiful, we lived well for quite a while.
Some people and incidents stand out in my memory. There are memorably good and bad stories. Upstairs, I didn’t get to know as well. Those with more money had rooms upstairs. Everybody else slept on the floor, downstairs. It was so crowded that no one really had room to stretch out on the floor. They were sleeping sitting up.
With a gust of wind, the door opened and slammed, and in walked a man and a woman. They looked very weary. My heart felt sorry for them because they were covered with travel dust and looked beaten down. The woman was really young and on the verge of tears. The Innkeeper was talking to the man and I knew that he was explaining that we had no vacancy, not even for sitting on the floor. He was even suggesting other inns.
It was when the women grabbed her stomach that I noticed that she was pregnant—very pregnant. In fact, I instinctively knew that she was in labor.
I prayed to G-d to help her. How could I help? There really were no vacancies in any inns. What could I have done?
Suddenly, I remembered the inn’s stable. Of course, that would be better than any inn because they’d have privacy. No one would be gawking at a lady giving birth on the floor. I joined the man and the innkeeper’s discussion and suggested the stable. Of course, the innkeeper thought this a good idea because he could make some money, plus help the pregnant woman. The couple immediately agreed.
I showed them the stable and shooed some of the animals out of the way, and put others in stalls. It wasn’t too bad. It was warm and we could clean it up. I even retrieved one of the animals’ mangers and made a baby’s crib out of one, cleaning it sweet smelling hay.
I went back and forth doing my job at the inn and running back to the stable whenever I could. I swept it up and shoveled out the muck. I brought some clean cloths and fresh water. The animals were acting odd. They stayed a respectful distance away but were very curious. Even the innkeeper himself came out to help.
Eventually, everyone in the inn knew a baby was going to be born in our stable. Everyone was happy and kind. I ran in and out to help and report the progress. Finally, one of the times that I went out to check on them, I saw that the lady had delivered the baby. It was a healthy baby boy.
Everyone seemed to celebrate this babe’s birth. I swear the animals were smiling. Crickets jumped up and down. The sheep baa-aed happily. The cow moved out to peak. Little birds darted to and fro, from nests in the eaves. The donkey stayed near the baby. The proud parents’ eyes were round in awe. The mother sang a happy lullaby. I’d swear I heard angels singing, but then everyone was cheering and shouting.
Cheers of delight exploded inside the inn and the people rushed out to see. I’ll never forget the feeling. I felt more emotional at this birth than the birth of my own children. It felt like we were celebrating the long awaited birth of the messiah.
Surprisingly, even the innkeeper offered a free drink to toast the occasion. Now there’s a miracle.