My favorite Christmas story is one about a school pageant. One of the students was a little slow, so they gave him the part of the innkeeper. All he had to say was “There’s no room in the inn,” and “No.” He did just fine in rehearsals. Came the night and Mary and Joseph approached the inn. “Can we stay here?” asked Joseph. “There’s no room in the inn,” said Bruce, looking troubled. “Please,” said Joseph, “my wife is pregnant.” Bruce had been looking more and more uncomfortable. After a short silence he threw the door open and said “Come on in!” Some of the audience thought the pageant had been ruined, but the rest thought it the best one they’d ever seen.
I’ve never connected this story with an experience of my own, but the door flung open and the huge welcome provided a template for me. I was in one of my periodic bad times, feeling like I hadn’t accomplished much that was worthwhile in my life. I thought “What will god think of this meager harvest?” and I saw myself climbing up the clouds toward a pearly gate carrying a couple of stalks of wheat. Suddenly the gate flew open, and this enormous being (looking more like Caspar the ghost than anything) with a huge smile, opened his/her/its/their arms wide and enfolded me saying “WELCOME! Whatever you have done or not done, welcome.” Remembering this can still warm my heart.
Also at this time I think about the homeless, not just the real ones in our cities and towns, but the parts of me that I have disowned, the depressed and discouraged and helpless ones, and I fling open the door to my heart and say “Welcome! Whatever you have done or not done, welcome!”

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