My three year old daughter has been soaking up the Nativity story. For weeks at school they went over the parts of the story, and at home we talk about that silent and holy night as we play with our Veggie Tales nativity set that was gifted to us. One of my favorite parts of the story, according to her three year old version, is when Mary and Joseph get to Bethlehem. Her version sounds a little bit like a knock knock joke…but she gets the point. It goes something like this.

“Mommy, say knock knock.”? I get where she is going.

” Knock Knock.” I say.

” NO ROOM!” She exclaims.

“Knock knock.” I say.

” NO ROOM!” She repeats.

This goes on for several more attempts. Finally, I end the never ending knocking with, “now what?!” She usually adds a very dramatic gasp at this moment. She gets serious. “Mary and Joseph went to the barn with the animals. Baby Jesus born…and he was nakey and they put clothes on him…and they put him in the FOOD BOWL.” Just for kicks and giggles I usually always add the shocking statement. “A food bowl?! What?!” She is usually quick to explain the food bowl is what the animals ate out of, and it is where baby Jesus had to be born.

I can’t tell you the number of times we have done this over the last several weeks, and it never gets old. In fact, each time I hear it, my three year old daughter forces my mind to think deeply about that night…to think…what it would have been like if Mary and Joseph had knocked on my door that night. Would I have been a busy “inn keeper” (read “housekeeper” for us today)…too busy in the Christmas activities, parties, baking to notice that this mother to be needed a place to rest, sleep, be loved on. Would I have been so preoccupied with my self…complaining that it was too close to Christmas to get everything all ready for guests on such short notice, and thus turning them away. Would I have ridiculed them for trying to travel and find a place on Christmas eve…I mean Christmas eve…come on people…don’t you have any decency?!

The funny thing is, the more I hear this story, the more I realize that I could be…no…I am just like that inn keeper long ago. My inn that I manage is called The Sparrows Nest. It’s busy…always. If a teen mom needed a place tonight would I brush it off until “after Christmas” because it’s just NOT the right time. Would I roll my eyes at the thought of having to sacrifice my holiday plans to accommodate her and the growing child within her? I pause and wonder. Then I hear my daughter’s sweet voice persistently saying. “Knock!Knock! NO ROOM!” Then it hits me. That’s not how our story will go. I will learn from that inn keeper of Bethlehem. This Christmas, we pray in anticipation of the girls we have contact with right now. Even praying that in this holiday season we will find them knocking at our front door…here…needing that place. I will go to the rugged blue front door, and there before me will be our Mary. She will need shelter, rest, love. I will hear those knocks…and joyously look at my daughter and say “There is ROOM!” There is room. Rooms waiting to be filled with those baby cries…those sweet lullabies. We will celebrate this babies birth…and teach them of the greatest birth that ever happened in that “barn with a food bowl” so long ago.


Amanda Shaheen

The Sparrow’s Nest Housemom