she gave birth to her firstborn son
and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger,
because there was no place for them in the inn.
(Luke 2:7)

How many times have we known that there is “no place for ” us “in the inn”?

How many times have we felt dislocated and alienated by the circumstances of our lives? How much loneliness is there in the world? How desperate is our need to belong? How many times have we failed to find that sense of belonging for which we yearn?

The traditional folk song describes something we sense intuitively is true when it describes the human condition saying,

I’m just a poor wayfaring stranger
Traveling through, this world of woe.

Jesus said,

Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests;
but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.
(Matthew 8:20)

There is a deep restlessness at the heart of every human being. We seem driven to acquire, accumulate, and strive for more than is our natural lot in life. We are chronically dissatisfied, always assuming that there is somewhere just over the next horizon where we will finally feel that we really belong. We move restlessly forward in the hope that we will come to a place where we can rest content and at peace in this world.

Jesus said,

In this world you will have trouble. (John 16:33)
But he also said,

Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.
(Matthew 11:28)

The rest for which we long is not a place. It is an inner condition. The mystery of this season is that, although on the surface we may feel there “is no place” for us “in the inn,” in reality we are always home.

Home is not a physical location, it is an experience of the mysterious presence of the Divine dwelling at the centre of our being. Home is a condition of the human heart.

Home is always available. No matter how much our conditions may cause us to feel disconnected and disoriented, we are never cut off from our true home. Our feelings do not tell us the deepest truth about who we are. We are children of God, held in tenderness and grace by the ultimate power of the universe.

There is something deeply touching about seeing a mother with her tiny infant. As long as the child can sense her mother’s presence, she knows that she is safe. Nothing can frighten and nothing can trouble the child who senses nearby the close living presence of her mother. The child can rest wherever she may be because she knows deeply that she is held in goodness and love.

There is nowhere the child needs to go. She is at home, even when there is “no place” for her “in the inn.” She is at home because the power of love is with her and she knows that this power is stronger and more real than anything by which she might ever feel threatened. Her sense of belonging depends upon nothing but the closeness of her mother.

Who can capture the mystery of a mother’s love? Who can contain in word, song, image, or concept the transcendent self-giving flow of generosity and grace embodied in the outpouring of love that a mother lavishes upon her infant?

This flow of love is the mysterious energy of the universe. In Christian tradition we say that it is this force of love that we see embodied in the person of Jesus. In his life we see the primal force that lies behind all existence. In Jesus we are able to identify the self-giving power of the universe that enables us to know deep in our being that, no matter where we may be, we are at home in God’s presence.