Morning Census

Bethlehem, USA, December 2020
 
It was a busy night.
We admitted 15.
There are no beds anywhere,
and everyone went to his own town to register.
 
We admitted one young Covid-positive mother 
with pre-eclampsia to labor & delivery,
and she wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.
 
There are flight delays due to weather.
It was 6 degrees Fahrenheit last night.
It was a busy night,
and there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby,
keeping watch over their flocks at night.
 
We’re worried about our patients in tents.
With the winds and snow,
tents are quite stressed.
But the Ursid meteor shower lit up the night,
and suddenly a great company of the heavenly host
appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
 
Before we air-lift patients to the University,
we need to call ahead
to see if they meet criteria,
so Joseph went to Bethlehem the town of David, 
because he belonged to the house and line of David.
 
The broken door to the ER 
lets in the cold and damp.
But Mary treasured up all these things 
and pondered them in her heart.
 
It’s cold.
There is no room anywhere.
Cars arriving for drive-through testing 
idle before dawn as they queue
and create a bottleneck for ambulances,
but the shepherds said to one another,
“Let’s go to Bethlehem to see this thing, 
which the Lord has told us about.”
 
It was a busy night.
Snow fell and dusted the trees
as if it were just another Christmas.
Foot traffic is heavy,
and sidewalk’s paisley
patterns announce winter’s austere hours:
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, 
and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
 
Even though there are no open beds remaining,
we might still find a way to accommodate one more.
 
All this took place to fulfill 
what the Lord had said through the prophet.
“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”

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