When I’m overwhelmed at this time of year I gravitate to the nativity scenes I’ve put up in my home, often stopping to contemplate them at the end of a long day when the lights are low and instrumental Christmas music is playing softly in the background.
Each of them is very different but this is the one I’m most drawn to.
The manger itself was designed and built by my Uncle Lou, which makes it really special and I love the simplicity of the Willow Tree figurines, each of them infused with calm and reverence, all of them focused on the baby.
All is serene.
Which is really somewhat ironic, isn’t it?
Because really, when you reflect back to the night this all happened, what do you think it was really like? You’re a young, very tired, still somewhat bewildered couple who just traveled many miles to fulfill a government census obligation only to find no room at the inn. Mary is nine months pregnant, Joseph is probably frustrated and deep down is still wondering just exactly how this conception took place. You finally find a place to stay and Mary goes into labor. I don’t believe there’s an account of what that particular labor was like but I wouldn’t have wanted to do it lying on straw on a dirt floor with animals around me and total strangers in the form of shepherds showing up right afterwards!
And did I mention those angels? There she is, trying to deliver the placenta and angels are appearing in the sky and singing?!?
I can only hope there was a lot of divine intervention that night. That Mary’s labor was easy and quick and that perhaps a midwife of some sort who has never been talked about in stories was sent to help Mary by the innkeeper who directed Joseph to the stable.
And I can continue to be grateful that their chaos that evening changed the world, bringing hope and serenity to someone like me, over 2000 years later, in the quiet of my home on a December night.