Madelon, lying in her bed of hay in the corner of the cave, heard her father and his other shepherd friends speak in low voices. Over the crackle of the fire, she strained to listen as she could sense the excitement. That night, an angel appeared on the hillside and brought them the news of the birth of baby Jesus.
“We simply cannot go empty handed to see the Infant King,” said one of the shepherds,” I saw wise men and kings pass our mountain side bearing gifts.”
“Of course, we must take gifts.” It was Madelon’s father who said that. “Whatever we can. I will take some fresh cheese we made.”
“And I shall take a fleece as white as snow to keep the baby warm,” said another.
“I will take some barley bread,” said somebody else. “It’s quite a distance to that little barn, the angel told us about. Let’s start right away.’’
The shepherds secured their sheep pens and lit fires around to keep wild animals away. Bearing their humble offerings they set out to follow the Star that shone brightly in the sky. Madelon hastily dressed and followed them. She wanted to see the King of Heaven too. As she made her way down the mountain, the ground was covered with thick snow, which glistened in the glow of the Star. Madelon shivered in the cold but kept walking, carefully keeping out of sight of her father and the other shepherds.
The path down the mountain was clearly visible as the Star lit up the entire countryside. Perhaps I could find a bunch of wild flowers to take with me thought she and began to look for flowers. But sadly for her, there was not a bud in sight for it was the dead of winter. I can’t go empty handed, no way, she told herself. The trees were bare and the streams lay frozen. An icy wind blew across the mountain. But Madelon bravely walked on. It was a long trek but the shepherds who walked ahead were talking excitedly and she drew comfort from that. But Papa should not see me, or else he will send me back home, she thought. She dared not slow down or she would lose the way.
At last, they reached the village of Bethlehem and the shepherds led the way down a narrow street. They stopped before a little barn. “Here it is!” said one, “The Star is right over this one!” Madelon looked up at the clear night sky. Sure enough the Star was right above the barn. The shepherds knocked softly on the door and a soft voice bade them enter. One by one, they made their way in carrying the gifts they had brought for the Infant King; a block of cheese, barley bread, a little lamb and a snow white fleece.
Madelon hid near the door and watched. Beyond the half open door she could see wise men, kings and the poor shepherds, all offering their gifts to the new born. She strained to look but couldn’t catch a glimpse of the Infant King.
She held her breath. I can’t go in without a gift. How miserable that is! After having come all this way too, I can’t see the baby King. Madelon thought her heart would break. Tears rolled down her cheeks and she began to sob. Unknown to her, an angel who stood by the door was watching her. The angel smiled.
As Madelon’s tears fell on the snow that lay at her feet, the ground began to thaw and a little plant sprouted up instantly, its green shoots growing tall and among the fresh new leaves were pink tipped buds! And before the surprised little girl’s very eyes, they opened shyly with snow white petals. Soon at her feet were a bunch of pink tipped white blossoms! Delighted, Madelon scooped up the flowers and shyly made her way into the barn. The Madonna, a beautiful lady in blue, smiled kindly at her and showed her the crib where the Infant Jesus lay. Madelon carefully placed her flowers at the foot of the crib and just at the moment, the baby smiled at her.
On that night was born too, the Christmas Rose which still blooms on the hill side in the coldest of winters to welcome Baby Jesus into this world.