The night is cold. Christmas is near. A voice rises up to the strum of guitar strings, and softly, gently, yet urgently pleads:

“In the name of heaven,
I request you grant us shelter
Given that she cannot walk
She my beloved wife.”

One can feel the pain of poor Joseph, who must have deeply felt his inadequacy at this moment. We all know the answer he received, house after house: “No hay nada de espacio. There is no room.”

Here in Carmel, we follow Joseph and Mary through this beautiful Mexican Christmas tradition: the tradition of Las Posadas. A “posada” is an inn or shelter, and in the nine days before Christmas, we walk the journey with Mary and Joseph as they search for room at the inn, for a place to call the Christ Child’s first home. Los peregrinos, the pilgrims, are carried about from place to place, day by day, and night by night the story is reenacted as they search for shelter.

Here at Santa Teresita, Las Posadas is quite an experience.One can see the crowd moving slowly along with the Pilgrims carried on their way.The crowd following them is a mixed group: some Carmelite sisters, gliding prayerfully and gracefully by, singing sweetly; residents from the assisted living and nursing facilities, some walk assisted by their family members, others raise their bent forms up as well as they can from their wheelchairs, straining to see what will happen next. Some in the group are young women, dressed in civilian clothes, listen with a bright hope in their eyes, as they sing the new songs as best as they can: these are the candidates, to whom everything is bright and new.

The tradition of Las Posadas keeps us on our toes as Christmas approaches. For as each day passes, and each song is sung, we begin to have a hope in our hearts that daily grows; perhaps the Virgin and the Christ Child will stop at the door of our hearts, and we may be lucky enough to offer him room for his resting place. As the song tells us:

Joyful be the house
That this day hosts
The pure virgin
The beautiful Mary.

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