About Me

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Trouble At The Inn

For many years now, whenever Christmas pageants are talked about
in a certain little town in the Midwest, someone is sure to
mention the name of Wallace Purling. Wally's performance in one
annual production of the nativity play has slipped onto the realm
of legend. But the old-timers who were in the audience that
night never tire of recalling exactly what happened.

Wally was nine that year and in the second grade, though he
should have been in the fourth. Most people in town knew that he
had difficulty in keeping up. He was big and clumsy, slow in
movement and mind. Still, his class, all of whom were smaller
than he, had trouble hiding their irritation when Wally would ask
to play ball with them or any game, for that matter, in which
winning was important.

Most often they'd find a way to keep him out but Wally would hang
around anyway not sulking, just hoping. He was always a helpful
boy, a willing and smiling one, and the natural protector of the
underdog. Sometimes if the older boys chased the younger ones
away, it would always be Wally who'd say, "can' they stay?
They're no bother"

Wally fancied the idea of being a shepherd with a flute in the
Christmas pageant that year, but the play's director, Miss
Lumbar, assigned him to a more important role. After all, she
reasoned, the Innkeeper did not have too many lines and Wally's
size would make his refusal of lodging to Joseph more forceful.

And so it happened that the usual large, partisan audience
gathered for the town's yearly extravaganza of beard, crown,
halos and a whole stage full of squeaky voices. No one on stage
or off was more caught up on the magic of the night than Wallace
Purling. They said later that he stood in the wings and watched
the performance with such fascination that from time to time Miss
Lumbar had to make sure he didn't' wander on stage before his

Then the time came when Joseph appeared, slowly, tenderly guiding
Mary to the door of the Inn. Joseph knocked hard on the wooden
door sat into the painted backdrop. Wally the innkeeper was
there, waiting.

"What do you want?" Wally said, swinging the door open with a
brusque gesture.

"We seek lodging."

"Seek it elsewhere," Wally looked straight ahead but spoke
vigorously. "The Inn is filled."

"Sir, we have asked everywhere in vain. We have traveled far and
are very weary."

"There is no room in this Inn for you." Wally looked properly

"Please, good Innkeeper, this is my wife, Mary. She is heavy
with child hand needs a place to rest. Surely you must have some
small corner for her. She is so tired."

Now, for the first time, the Innkeeper relaxed his still stance
and looked down at Mary. With that, there was a long pause, long
enough to make the audience a bit tense with embarrassment.
"No! Be gone!" the prompter whispered from the wings.

"No!" Wally repeated automatically, "Be gone!"

Joseph sadly placed his arm around Mary and Mary laid her head
upon her husband"s shoulder and the two of them started to move
away. The Innkeeper did not return inside his Inn, however.
Wally stood there in the doorway, watching the forlorn couple.
His mouth was open, his brow creased with concern, his eyes
filling unmistakable with tears.

And suddenly the Christmas pageant became different from all the

"Don't go, Joseph," Wally called out. "Bring Mary back." And
Wallace Purling's face grew into a bright smile. "You can have
my room!"

Some people in town thought that the pageant had been ruined.
Yet there were others....many, many others...who considered it
the most Christmas of all Christmas pageants they had ever seen.

-By Dina Donahue

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."
-Isaiah 9:6


Anonymous said...

These are the kinds of stories I look forward to reading year after year with the kids. If you have a dry face then you truely have not been touched by the spirit to remember what Christmas is about let alone what being Christlike is about.


jenny said...

Oh my gosh, I can hardly type through my tears!!! This is a great story!