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What is in the Stable?

December 23

Part 6


The next day, at dusk, we set out for Bethlehem, and for the first time, I look forward to where we are going. What god is so important that meeting him is worth the silence of my master; losing my friends, the stars; and being dragged on a long trip over the desert without knowing where I am going? I want to know.


On a hill a few miles south of Jerusalem sits the city of Bethlehem. The star leads us through the city to a gated house. In the courtyard my master ties my reins to a post with the other camels. The star moves over the courtyard, and rests over the house. The star holds very still. I have never seen it hold so still, and I wonder if the star has finally found its place in the sky.


My master strides across the courtyard, and knocks on the door. Someone inside gestures for my master to go around to the back of the house, where there is almost certainly a stable. He disappears behind a corner. I wait, and I wait.


Eventually, my head grows heavy from all the tossing and turning the night before. My eyelids droop, so when I look up, I don't know if I'm really seeing what I think I'm seeing. But this is what I see:


The moon and Polaris, the north star, are closer now. The other stars also move closer, and fill the dome of the sky. The stars gather into constellations—constellations in such detail that it feels as if someone has drawn lines to connect them into figures. And I recognize the figures:


Ahura and Angra Mainyu are standing over the house. Across from them, Amun and Osiris loom. Zeus, Apollo, and Athena gather round. Out beyond them, other gods gather, ones I do not know, and together, all of them move in a circle around the house and the stable behind it.


All of the stars, the forms of all the gods, are peering down, probably wondering just like me, who is this one who calls himself their equal? Then, something happens, something I never expected, not in my entire life.


One by one, the gods, all of them, they bow.


The one in the stable behind that house, He is not their equal. He is greater than all of them. I begin to tremble. Who or what is in that stable?

MOVE the wisemen to the manger, but not inside.


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