“…And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” — Luke 2:7
The night is cool and turning colder. The air smells of woodsmoke, lamp oil and manure. Quirinius is governing Syria. Caesar Augustus has issued a decree. “Register the world! Take a census.” Under the dominating hand of Rome, men and their families scurry to their birth homes to register. Jerusalem is overflowing. Bethlehem is packed.
It is dark. Past the evening meal. A young man leads a young girl riding a donkey up a small trail and into Bethlehem. He is pensive. Every few seconds, he glances over his shoulder.
The rumors have preceded them. As have the whispers. She’s pregnant but not with his child and to complicate matters, they’re not married. It’s a scandal. According to Jewish law, he should put her out and she should be stoned.
The innkeeper has had a long day. He watches warily. The tired young man asks, “Sir, do you have a room?”
The innkeeper shakes his head. “Full up.”
The young man strains his voice. “You know of…anywhere?”
The innkeeper leans on his broom handle. Half-annoyed. His patience is thin. “Try down there. But…you’re wasting your time.”
The girl winces. The contractions have started. The stain on her dress suggests her water broke. The innkeeper’s wife eyes the barn and whispers. “We can make room.”
Halfway through the writing of “Long Way Gone,” I discovered I’d written myself into what looked like a dead end. Or a black hole. It’d happened years before so I tried to press in and listen for the story to bubble up. Crickets. I’ve heard it called writer’s block. It’s the second time in my career I’d come to a stand-still with no way around. The first time ended badly. That memory echoed.
In desperation, I got up out of my chair, grabbed my Bible and walked out onto the pool deck where I began circling, reading the Psalms out loud. When I tired of this, I set down my Bible, raised my hands and continued circling. Christy thought I was losing it. “Honey do you have a plan B?”
No, I’ve never had a plan B.
I don’t know how many times I walked around our pool but the words I kept repeating were, “Lord, Your word is true. More true than my circumstances. My circumstances don’t dictate my reality or Yours. Your Word reveals it. Help…Please help.”
Let me back up — Nine years ago, 20th Century Fox “optioned” the cinematic rights to The Mountain Between Us. In layman’s terms, that’s like leasing with an option to buy. For six years, nothing happened. Crickets. Then slowly information started trickling in. A script was written. Then rewritten. And rewritten. A director was added. Then actors. The film was shot, produced, directed, acted, edited and a music score added. A few weeks ago that film released in North America, Mexico, Russia, Europe, the UK and Australia to name a few.
It's Thursday night. Darker than usual. Jesus has just finished the Passover dinner. Washed His disciples feet. Taken the cup. Watched Judas walk out. The end has come.
The unsuspecting eleven follow Him through the quiet city streets. Flying high on the heels of the triumphal entry, they are giddy with what-might-be. The conquering Son of David soon to sit on His rightful throne. Somewhere a candle flickers. Then another. They descend the Hill of the City of David and Jesus approaches the Brook Kidron. Higher on the hill above them, the clear spring bubbles up out of the earth, circulates through the grounds of the temple, and fills the ceremonial cleansing pools. From there it washes out the blood of the morning and evening sacrifices, then it descends the hill.
When it rolls beneath their feet, it smells of death.
Jesus stands on the stone bridge that crosses the brook. Glancing over His shoulder. The smell fills His nostrils. Fitting. He enters the Garden. Gethsemane. This is the place where the olives are crushed. Where the oil is poured out. This too is fitting…
Can't wait for October 4th? Starting today, July 8th, I am auctioning off a signed copy ofLong Way Gone. Auction will run Friday 8th through Sunday the 10th on my Facebook page. Follow this link to bid. Please bid in the comments section. Make sure you check back regularly throughout the weekend. If someone outbids you, just comment again and raise your bid...
Kate Winslet is in talks to play the role of Ashley Knox alongside Idris Elba as Ben Payne. Both will be fantastic. Actually, the choice is brilliant. To think that either might actually be starring in a movie based on my book...are you kidding me? Really? You can read more about them here.This one is pretty good, too.
"When Crickets Cry" is currently ranked #5 out of the Top 100 Books on all of Amazon Kindle. It's the only time I've ever seen one of my books listed above a James Patterson title. If you'd like in on the fun (for $1.99), click the link below and please share with your friends.