Asleep on the Hay:
A Dust Bowl Christmas
by Ben Sowards
It’s Christmas Eve when a knock comes at the door of Paul’s family farmhouse. A small family is stranded due to a broken-down truck and seeks shelter for the evening. Paul’s grandfather not only welcomes them in, but offers them dinner and a bed for the night. Even though it is a season of giving, Paul’s heart is not filled with charity. It’s the height of the Dust Bowl and food is scarce. Why should he share what little he has with strangers? Worse, in order to help the sick baby, Paul will have to sell his beloved calf to buy a part to fix the truck.
Angry, he retreats to the barn, where he sleeps and dreams of faraway Bethlehem. In his dream, he visits Mary and Joseph, and their newborn son, Jesus. The family offers Paul food and shelter and warmth—extending to him the love and charity he lacks and teaching him of the true meaning of Christmas.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Asleep on the Hay: A Dust Bowl Christmas by Ben Sowards in exchange for an honest review.
The moment I first saw Asleep on the Hay: A Dust Bowl Christmas I was drawn to the book by the incredible cover art. I felt compelled to open it and see if the interior art was as stunning and filled with rich colors. I was not disappointed. Mr. Sowards did such an magnificent job with the illustrations that I would have found this a book to treasure without a word written in it.
But alas, Asleep on the Hay: A Dust Bowl Christmas is also such a beautifully written story that stirred my heart. It’s deep duality reminding me of the gift of grace that was brought to this world by a tiny baby born in a manger and all that was sacrificed so many years ago when Jesus cried out “It is done”.
The sacrifice made by Paul in Asleep on the Hay: A Dust Bowl Christmas made the gift of eternal life shine through almost a decade when the sun struggled to shine through the curtains of dust that coated the Great Plains of the United States. A small boy was able to reach deep down inside himself to help a tiny baby that was struggling to get a foothold on life when many young ones dies from the suffocating effects of the black clouds that engulfed this land.
©December 17, 2015
Author & Illustrator Ben Sowards
Ben Sowards teaches others to paint both traditionally and digitally at Southern Utah University, where has directed the illustration program since 2001.
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