There was a poor young wife, Mary of Nazareth, among the dwellers of the town, so little esteemed that none noticed the great wonder she carried. She was silent, did not vaunt herself, but served her husband. They simply left the house. Perhaps they had a donkey for Mary to ride upon, though the Gospels say nothing about this, and we may well believe that she went on foot. The journey was long, and they took very little, for Joseph had thought, “When we get to Bethlehem, we shall be among relatives and can surely borrow everything we need.” A fine idea that was! Bad enough that a young bride could not have her baby in her own house! How much worse that when she arrived in Bethlehem there was no room for her! The inn was full. No one would release a room to this pregnant woman. She had to go to a cow stall and there bring forth the Maker of all things… No one regarded this young wife bringing forth her first-born. No one took her condition to heart. No one noticed that in a strange place she had not the very least thing needful in childbirth. She was without preparation: no light, no fire, in the dead of night, in thick darkness… Think, women, there was no one there to bathe the baby. No warm water, nor even cold. The mother was herself midwife and maid. The cold manger was the bed and the bathtub. Who showed the poor girl what to do? She had never had a baby before. I am amazed that the little one did not freeze (adapted from Bainton, Here I Stand, 364-367).

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