I fumbled to pull my hood over my head as I juggled the cups of coffee in my hand.
One was for me, the other for the dirty faced farmer behind the wheel of the roaring combine.
Just as I got close enough to feel the breeze from the corn stubble blowing out from behind the monstrous machine, it came to a slow halt.
Word had come in the bin was full. Looks like the last of corn would have to stay in the field a bit longer.
I turned back towards the house.
It was November night dark as I slowly trekked up the gravel road with my shoes squeaking on the damp ground.
As I walked through the door I headed for the boxes of Christmas decorations I had pulled out of the basement a few hours before.
The house was quiet as I began unpacking the newest pieces of my nativity scene.
Usually I bring out the most meaningful pieces first.
I like to start at the beginning with Jesus and Mary and Joseph.
I imagine the shepherds and the wise men.
I put them out, almost as if I'm a kid again, going through a story in my head.
But this time, I thought twice before putting Jesus in that manger.
I saw that empty barn sitting on my foyer table and instead of some dreamy, far away land, I thought about my world.
I started wondering about those innkeepers. I started wondering about that barn.
How just a few days before it was just like any other old barn.
Before it became part of the grand story.
And it occurred to me that I might be a lot like that innkeeper who didn't even recognize hope when it came knocking on his door.
You see I started thinking maybe that innkeeper had been out all day taking care of a cow and her calf.
Or maybe he had hammered his finger instead of the nail while building the chicken coop today.
Just maybe that innkeeper had been busy cleaning house.
And cooking pies.
And keeping all the little critters happy.
Don't forget about Bandit.
He wants back in.
He's wet of course.
Perhaps there was corn to be harvested.
And milk to be shipped.
Hokie games to attend.
And a pet cow that wants to be scratched on the head.
And maybe those innkeepers were just some dirty faced farmers.
And that manger was just in an ordinary barn.
Maybe they just wanted to rest and give thanks for a bountiful harvest.
Watch a beautiful sunset.
And make a few wishes for tomorrow.
Thank goodness someone had a better plan.