She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.
-Luke 2:7 CEB
December, more than most any month, can go one of two ways.
One trail is all tangled, all covered with bramble. You can get lost, what with all of the noise and all of the bright colored lights.
But December, if you choose, if you allow it, can be the trail through the woods that leads to the light, far off in the distance.
The darkness itself offers the gift. Each day, the darkness comes sooner, comes deeper, comes blacker than ink. It draws us in, into our homes, yes, but more so, into our souls.
It invites us: light a light. Wrap a blanket. Sit by the fire. Stare into the flames, and onto the last dying embers. Consider the coming of Christmas.
I am, in this month of preparing, in this month of a story told time and again, listening anew to the words. I am considering the story of the travelers, the Virgin with Child, the donkey, the man with the tools, the unlikely trio, knocking and knocking at door after door.
I am remembering how, long, long ago, I winced when I heard how no one had room. Open the door, I would shout deep inside. Make room. Make a room.
I didn't know then I could change it. I could take hold of the story; make it be just as it should be.
But I do now. I know now.
I am taking hold of that story, the way that it's told this December. I am, in the dark and the quiet, making the room that I longed for. For the three in the story, yes, but even for me.
I am preparing a room at the inn. The inn, of course, is my heart.