We drove into Florence, Italy as the cobbled streets of the old city glimmered under the streetlamps with ancient edifices silhouetted against an indigo sky. Our reservations at the pensione had been confirmed during a stop and phone call at the elegant Jolly Hotel located on the edge of town. We were assured that we were five minutes from our room.
Three hours later, after one-way streets, dead ends and crisscrossing bridges over the river, we arrived. My husband parked on the street and walked to the inn. As I sat in the car waiting, I noticed the security gated shops, a young man who approached and urinated on a pole by my car and the police and tow truck in the rearview mirror. The police let me stay (hysterical American), though I didn’t have a parking pass.
My husband returned with news that our room had been rented but there was another inn. As we unpacked our car, the innkeeper locked the door and turned off the lights. Midnight. Curfew. We repacked and drove around in search of an open inn to no avail. A hooker by the side of the road flashed us. I knew that even she had a room!
At 3 a.m., we came upon the Jolly, parked in front and I ran inside the unlocked doors. The desk clerk discounted the room, included a buffet breakfast and free parking where we were. The room was elegant with Bombay chests, fine terrazzo and tile. We had gone full circle.
I was reminded of Mary and Joseph in their quest for accommodations and their rejection by innkeepers and could relate to their hopelessness.
The analogy is evident in that when we feel hopeless, we seek help and are often thwarted. Yet, God is like the Jolly Hotel, offering a beacon of hope as we traverse the winding roads, rejection and fear in this worldly life. God has room in His inn with shelter from life’s storms. After all, He sheltered His Son on what has become Christmas.