“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
The blow landed on the side of her face, startling her out of a daydream of the home she once had. “Stupid, lazy, good for nothing girl! We’re out of water again! You aren’t worth the few shekels I paid for you!”
A large earthenware pot was shoved into her arms and she hefted it to her head, her small back bent under the weight of it, empty though it was. “Bring it back full!”
The setting sun cast long shadows down the narrow street as she stumbled along; tears coursing down her cheeks. Fear of returning empty-handed moved her forward; yet fear of who might be lurking around each dark corner gripped her as she continued down the road. She turned into a shadowed alleyway and heard the soft plodding of hooves and hushed voices headed toward her. She stood still and watched the two who traveled past, greeting her kindly, but also intent on getting to their destination. For some unknown reason, she followed them, staying back so as not to be noticed; she had never seen them before, but something in their manner seemed familiar and she was reminded of her parents. They stopped before a crude stable on the edge of town, heads together they whispered as if unsure. Finally, a lantern was lit and they entered.
Curious, the young girl was drawn forward; carefully setting down the vessel, she crouched below a crack in the boards along the side of the shelter. She could hear muffled voices from inside and then there was silence. The sun had gone down and she knew she should return, but for some reason she could not leave this place of peace. Resting her head against the rough wood, she closed her eyes; and she waited, pulling her garment around her arms against the cool night air. Her earlier fear subsided to be replaced by thoughts of those who had once loved her but who were now gone. Would she ever know that love again? Could anyone fill the empty hollows of her heart?
Then she slept.
As the stars appeared one by one in the black sky above, the two inside stirred; and the light from one star outshone the others and came to rest on that humble place.
Then, in the still silence of early morning, an infant cry awakened the girl; her long watch was over.
~by Leslie Drury, Nov. 30, 2016
Quote from “The Lutheran”, November 13, 1991
“I encourage you this morning to live in that new reality.
Live in the hope and assurance of Jesus’ return.
Live in the joy of preparing for the Christ, born in Bethlehem,
the Christ who already knows you, who loves you,
and who gave his life for you. Amen.”