Is there still room in the inn?

Anne C. Welsh Guest columnist

For several weeks, and especially during these holidays, I can't get the children out of my mind and heart.

I mean the children who have been in the news, who are waiting, walking for untold days and miles with their parents, wondering if and when and where they will find a home. Almost any home, a place they can rest, sleep, eat and feel safe. Refugees and immigrants, seeking safety and a future for their families.

To me, most all these children are beautiful, even those with eyes wide open with uncertainty, those who are crying or lost. I would love to hold each of them and reassure them that things are going to be all right. But I do not know that.

I do know that what I should do is to help any way I can to provide food, shelter and medicine for these people, a little reassurance against the coldness and sadness in their world.

The other day, carrying the children in my heart, I made my way to the post office to buy Christmas stamps. As I stood in line surveying the colorful array of holiday stamps, my eyes were drawn immediately to one depicting the holy family's flight into Egypt. Its theme, old and traditional, seemed so pertinent to today's world.

Maybe you know this stamp, the twilight sky and the incredibly bright star a backdrop for the dark figures of Joseph walking across the desert, leading a donkey on which Mary and the babe are riding.

According to the Nativity story, the little holy family is alone. Possibly they could travel only at night, fleeing from jealous King Herod to Egypt, somewhere safer than Bethlehem where they had gone to be counted in the census ordered by Rome.

Most of us know the story. The holy family was of poor or modest means. Mary had to give birth to her child in an humble stable, among farm animals. She laid the babe in a rough manger, he who would be called Savior, Son of God and Prince of Peace. The supporting cast of shepherds, angels and wise men hovered in wonder.

I could not help but make comparison to the refugees in the world today, fleeing war, oppression and poverty, walking mile upon mile, night and day, towards uncertainty, hoping for safety and help.

Sadly, some of these desperate people are now suspect, despised or feared because of their religion or background. There are too many; barricades have been erected and desperate people have died.

UNICEF, Doctors without Borders and the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, among others, are being stretched beyond capacity to provide shelter, food and medical assistance to these people. We in our land of abundance are being asked to open our gates and our hearts to receive a relatively small number of these refugees. Will they find room in the inn?