“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” (Prov. 17:22)
I was thirsty, and hungry, and tired. I thought maybe there was someone here who could help me.
I came closer to a man and woman who were traveling at the back of the group. The woman was riding a donkey that the man was leading.
They must have heard me panting as I walked up behind. They both turned to look at me and the man held up the lantern to see me in the dark.
I had never felt or seen such kindness in anyone’s face as I saw in theirs. Not even my Mom and Dad.
“Look Mary,” said the man. “It’s a little black dog.”
“Oh Joseph, he looks so tired and thirsty,” the lady replied. “Pour him out some water in a cup and break off a piece of bread so he can eat.”
I sat and watched as the man stopped the donkey, poured out the water, and took some bread out of a sack. He knelt down and held the bread out toward me.
“Here boy,” he said. “Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Come here boy, we won’t hurt you.”
I felt safe with these people, just like with Mom and Dad. I wagged my tail as I walked up slowly and took the bread out of the man’s hand.
As I gobbled down the bread and drank the water, I tried to say “thank you” but all that came out was a weak “grunt”.
“Oh listen, Joseph” replied the lady. “He grunts just like a little pig. How sweet! And look how hungry he is. He must have traveled a long way.”
The man reached out and gently patted my head.
“How about it, boy? Have you come a long way? We’ve traveled a long way, too. Are you lost? Are you looking for someone?”
I tried to explain about my family and the strange things that had happened, but all that came out were more grunts and oinks.
The lady smiled softly. “We’re going to a little town not far from here. Why don’t you come with us? Maybe there you’ll find what you’re looking for.”
Joseph picked up the cup and placed it back in their bag. He held up the lantern and they started walking back down the little road.
I followed close behind. Maybe my family was in this little town Mary spoke of.
Maybe all of my questions would be answered there.
It wasn’t long before we began to see the lights of a small town up on a hill. I had heard Mary and Joseph talking as we travelled and they said the name of the town was Bethlehem.
As we got closer, we saw that many other people were traveling there also.
We came into the town and the streets were crowded with people.
I tried to look at everyone’s face to see if anyone seemed familiar or was my family. But everyone was a stranger.
I even looked down the alleys to see if Marvin was digging in the trash.
There were donkeys and sheep and cows in the streets, and even some other dogs, but no one wanted to stop and talk to me. Everyone seemed in such a hurry to get someplace.
Joseph stopped at different houses along the street and asked if they had any room for him and Mary to spend the night. Each one said no but they suggested other places to go and try.
We walked up and down what seemed like every street but no one had any room for us to stay.
Finally, a man told Joseph of a place near the town wall that had rooms for rent called an “Inn” and for him to try there.
We found the Inn and Joseph went inside to talk to the man while I sat by the door with Mary.
The man said that the Inn was full and there were no rooms anywhere in town because of all the people that had come to pay their taxes.
Joseph said that he had to find someplace because his wife was about to have a baby.
“So that’s why Mary rode on the donkey and didn’t walk,” I thought. “She’s going to have a baby.”
The man stepped outside and looked at Mary.
“I have a stable in the back,” He said.
“If you don’t mind the animal smells you’re welcome to stay there. There’s some hay that you can use for a bed, and I’ll bring you both out a good hot meal. I wish I could do more.”
“Thank you,” said Joseph. “May the Lord bless you for your kindness.”
We went around to the stable where Joseph helped Mary off the donkey. He helped her inside and made her a bed of straw.
There were other animals in the stable and just outside there was even a mama pig and her piglets.
“Maybe now I can get some answers,” I thought.
“Excuse me ma’am,” I said to Mrs. Pig. “My name is Jake and I have lost my family. I wonder if perhaps you’ve seen them.”
“I do declare,” said Mrs. Pig. “I believe you’re the first dog that I’ve ever heard grunt our language. There have been a lot of people by here tonight. Maybe I have seen them.”
“What do they look like?”
“Well,” I said. “My daddy is big and round, my brother is very tall and quiet, and my mother has silver hair and a face like an angel.”
“No. I don’t believe that I have seen anyone like that,” said Mrs. Pig. “But the town is full of people tonight. They’re probably here somewhere.”
“I don’t believe so,” I said. “I think that I have walked down every street tonight and I didn’t see them anywhere.”
“Baaaa,” said a sheep that was listening from the stable door.
“There are other people here besides just those who are in the town. There are shepherds watching over the flocks of sheep out in the field. Perhaps your family is with them.”
The kind sheep told me how to get to the field where the shepherds were, and I decided to go and see if my family was there.
I checked in on Joseph and Mary before I left, but it looked like everything was alright and they had settled in for the night.
Maybe I could find my family in the field where the shepherds were.
(TO BE CONTINUED)