an ancient story
It is a dark night. The air is crisp and clear. The stars are shining brightly against the black heaven. One particular star is even brighter than the others, and it seems… could it be? It seems to be following the couple!
Josh looks back at the young woman at his side. She is clearly exhausted. They’ve been travelling for days, the last stretch of their journey having been a bumpy ride on the back of an open truck – the only means of transport they were able to find – and Mary was in an advanced stage of pregnancy!
At last they are approaching the little town Molteno. Signs of small-town civilization are flashing past – and then, almost instantaneously, they arrive. Even in the darkness the general neglect is visible. Old houses and tiny businesses are leaning onto the shoulder of an equally broken down main road. The town is sleeping.
The truck slows down and stops in front of a lapidated building. Above the entrance looms a faded sign board: “Molteno Motel”. So this is it! Josh helps the weakened girl off the truck. Her hands are cold. At last he would be able to ease her discomfort a little…
“Goodnight and good luck to you!”
The voice causes Josh to look back at the driver of the truck. He seems a kind and gentle man. The woman sitting next to him must be his wife.
“Thank you very much Sir, Ma’m. Have a safe journey!”
Having waved the couple in the vehicle goodbye, Josh focuses his attention on the situation at hand. He knocks hesitantly. The whole miserable experience of hitch hiking has left his confidence bruised, but he won’t let Mary notice it. Mary needs him. She depends on him and trusts him. No, he won’t let her see how uncomfortable he feels. He knocks again, harder this time. As he raises his hand once again to knuckle the thick wood, a light flashes on inside. After some minutes the door creaks open just an inch, and a tall man in flannel pyjamas peers through sleepy eye lids at them.
The BMW is gliding smoothly over the hard tarred surface. The three men are driving in silence, save for the soft sounds of classical music filling the cool air. The tension is almost touchable. A respectful excitement keeps them focussed on their mission. Far above a bright star is beckoning.
Josh wakes up startled. Without waking Mary he slips out of the makeshift bed and tiptoes over to the other side. The miracle child! Josh blinks as tears are forming in his eyes – tears that were way overdue… tears that were held back for a long, long time. His young wife’s hand is resting lightly on the infant next to her. Her breathing is quiet, peaceful, like an angel.
Memories of the previous night come flooding back into Josh’s consciousness. He tries to force them back. It was a night he would never forget - the long journey, the apologetic hotel manager who eventually allowed them to sleep in this little store-room. (Who could have imagined that a small-town hotel could be fully booked!) And then of course at 3am Mary started to get contractions and was in full labour before he could even call for help. Yes, a night to remember.
And now the little baby boy is lying asleep, so innocently, in a washing basket next to his mother, with a ray of morning sunshine falling softly on his forehead…
The Christ. That’s what the angel said! Josh reflects again on how his life had changed in the last nine months. People calling him crazy, judgement because of Mary’s “untimely” pregnancy… and yet he feels intensely honoured and proud to be father to this child.
A knock on the door interrupts his thoughts. It is the old man with the flannel pyjamas – or rather, this time without the pyjamas!
Someone to see us? Who could possibly know we are here?
Mary is awake now, staring lovingly down at the bundle of joy wrapped in a blanket. Josh smiles, and leaves the room to meet the visitors.
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