Road To Bethlehem
My name is Reuben, this name given to me upon my birth into the world of man. The tribal elders tell me it means “he who sees the son”. My father tells me it is the name of a seeker or a pilgrim. My father was a wise man and foresaw that my feet would carry me to travel and find answers in my quest. But my quest over many years to find answers only gave me more questions.
I have traveled long and tedious journeys seeking . . . seeking I guess what all men look for in life, why I am here.
One day on my travels I came upon a beggar sitting under a tree near Juhazm. I was tired from my long journey as I said to him, “I have nothing to offer you my friend, I too am a man begging not for coin but for answers, may I share your shade tree for a time.” The man smiled and held out to me his unopened hand. Slowly he opened it to reveal a golden feather. I was amazed at so fine a thing as this in the possession of a lowly beggar forgotten along the road.
To my amazement the beggar said, “Reuben I have waited long to give you this.”
“Give me this, how can it be that you offer me such a fine thing and we have never met?”
The man touched my hand and placed the golden feather within its center. “I have been given my task in a dream. A dream in which an angel came to me and said, “A pilgrim will come, he is seeking answers. He shall follow this guide and he will find the answers he seeks.”
The feather did not touch my hand but seemed to float just above it. As I turned my hand in different directions it continued to point in only one way, towards the west. “What lies there?” I asked the beggar man. He paused and answered, “The road to Bethlehem.”
For the first time in my life a feeling came over me that I had found directions. I thanked the man and with a renewed sense of purpose I set upon the road to Bethlehem. I had not traveled far when I looked back to the shade of the tree to wave farewell. The beggar was gone-vanished in the desert winds. I thought to myself, “Was he an angel?” Surely an angel would not appear as a beggar. I felt the feather urge me on toward the west.
The road seemed to stretch endless towards the west and as night came on, the dry winter air turned cold from the south. I saw a place near the road’s edge that would offer shelter for the night from the wind. I made fire with small branches and dry droppings from sheep that traveled the road.
I was tired and hungry but the small fire offered me only its warmth as comfort. I soon fell to sleep. After awhile I was awaken by the sound of tinkling bells. As I awoke, I realized I was surrounded by a flock of sheep. From out of the darkness came a voice. “Friend may we share your fire?” I began to see two shepherds who were tenders of the sheep. “You are welcome my friends, my name is Reuben.”
“We are Jacob and Jeremiah, shepherds of the flock. It is said that angels have foretold to our brethren the coming of the Savior in the city of David. We travel towards Bethlehem to find the answers.”
Reuben looked at the shepherds and then opened his hand to show them the golden feather. “I too believe I have seen an angel who appeared to me as a beggar. He gave me this feather as a guide. Could it be the answers I also seek will be there?”
The shepherds could not help with his question. They warmed themselves and once again set out into the darkness on the road to Bethlehem. Once again I sat alone by the fire and pondered the words the shepherds had told me. Again the tiredness and hunger caused me to sleep.
“Man are you dead?” a voice pulled me from my sleep. As my eyes opened I looked up at three great kings that were standing looking down at me. “Who are you, my kings and why have you awakened me?”
“We are Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar. We journey to find a new King. Do you know of such a place with a King?”
I shook my head that I knew of no King. Caspar thanked me and asked my forgiveness for waking me from my sleep. “We shall go to Jerusalem and ask King Herod if he knows of a new King” said Balthazar. The three kings disappeared into the night.
Again I felt the warmth of the fire and fell to sleep. I slept as I had not slept in many days as I dreamed of the shepherd and the kings and their journeys to find a Savior and a King. Then I the realized that I too was looking for the same thing as those men, and the answer must be in Bethlehem.
The morning sun felt warm on my back as I walked to what I now believed would be the end of my journey. The road was lonely and empty of travelers. But still I continued on my way.
After a few days of travel I came upon a small rise overlooking the town of Bethlehem. The road was steep and rocky going down into town. As I looked down I saw a man leading a small donkey and upon the beast was a woman. The man struggled to get the donkey down the stone path without falling. I knew I could help.
Quickly I moved down the steep road to where the man had stopped to rest. “May I help?” I asked.
The man had a kind face and indicated my help would be appreciated. The young woman smiled with her eyes but did not speak. Slowly we managed to help the small donkey down the steep road and to the edge of town. “We thank you kind sir, we have nothing to offer but our thanks. What is your name?” I answered “Reuben.”
The couple started off down the street as I went toward the center of town looking still for my answers I knew were here. I asked all that I met and yet they knew of no King or of no Savior. Had I been wrong in my quest? Had the beggar been only a beggar. But what of the golden feather? The night grew late and I hoped to find shelter.
As I wandered the street, I saw a star shining so bright it seemed to warm me in the night. I felt the feather in my hand and again it pointed the way.
As I came out of the dark alley, I felt something pulling me toward the warmth of a small stable just ahead. To my surprise, there before me were the shepherds from the road. And nearby were the grand kings standing quiet and looking into the small stable. I too wanted to see what was so wonderful in this place on this night.
Then I saw the man and woman that I had helped down the rocky road kneeling beside the manger. Warmth came over me and I realized in this place, on this night, I had found the answers to my questions. I had found them in the hopes of a small baby that would become King and be my Savior.
Man often finds himself on the path to Bethlehem seeking answers in life. He does not often know why he must travel such a difficult road. Along the way, he meets many other travelers on life’s path and never knows if they may be going to the same place in life’s long journey. But still he travels forward, often alone in his quest for the one great answer.
If he believes and has faith, man will find the answers much as Reuben did that night in the stables.
From the staff of the Wetzel Chronicle, my wife Mary, and myself we wish you and your families a merry season of the year and hope for the future as we all look Thru the Lens.
Luke 2:11, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”