It was eleven degrees outside and still dark. We were drinking coffee.
“Did you really write that? A wee Babe’s face? Todd asked after I read him my poem.
“I did. You don’t like it?”
“We don’t talk that way,” he said attempting a Scottish accent.
“A poem doesn’t have to read like we normally speak. Do you like the word dank?”
“Because it’s used to describe a basement usually, not a stable. You could use ‘odorous’ maybe. But we like thinking it was clean straw. We want it a little nice for the Baby Jesus. A nice manger with clean straw…”
And this was our banter in the wee hours of the morning as I pondered the message for Day Eleven 2019 in the Advent Calendar. And I also wondered where the imaginings ended and the tangibles began?
For a long time there had been a picture stuck in my mind from cards we send and carols we sing, and my own imagination surrounding the Christmas story. But I longed to feel deep in my heart what Jesus and Mary and Joseph had felt, and had endured that night when the star appeared over Bethlehem.
When I gave birth I couldn’t walk for three days. There was the shock to my body, the stitches, things for pain. There were nurses and doctors, and food. What and when did Mary and Joseph eat? In my mind I saw Mary with her new baby crouched beside that manger after giving birth, hungry, in pain, and I ached for her.
Release, relief merging with mystery, a miracle and wonder.
What do we hold on to? Like water being purified, can we strip away all that’s unnecessary?
Because if you in the midst of the cards and the carols carry sorrow, don’t be discouraged. It was a dark day for Him too.
He made Himself nothing so we could gain hope in a wee Babe’s face.
Though a great company of heavenly hosts appeared exclaiming, Glory, He laid in straw in a gloomy dank place—the heart of the world.
Now here our hearts lay open, waiting expectanly for this light that flames the fibers of our inmost being—enlightening, warming, refining, overwhelming, extinguishing the old life, quickening us to the place where we will no longer fear the flame because everything combustible will have been consumed.
Poor and knowing grief—the deepest of the deep—He came and comes into the dark cold caves of our hearts with His igniting fire.
Todd was right, we like thinking it was clean straw. We want it a little nice for the Baby Jesus. A nice manger with clean straw. We can’t change that, but we can allow Him to change our hearts.
His birth on earth, this offering and sacrifice of grace everlasting—salvation—is received with repentance, humilitiy, and with awe.
Four photos of the moon.
Pondering Advent. Originally posted December 2019. Advent Calendar.
“Release, relief merging with mystery, a miracle and wonder.”
This is one of the best descriptions of how that first Christmas must have felt. Mary and Joseph, the angels and shepherds, surely sensed the awesomeness of that moment. Thank you, and God Bless.
David, as had happened on another occasion this week, you have pointed out a sentence I was going to mess with. In all honesty, I didn’t understand it the first time I reread it, thought maybe it was too wordy. That’s when I know the Holy Spirit had His hand on my pen. And as I was editing, He also had His hand on my thoughts! ❤️😊 I so appreciate your comment.
I’ve only read a bit of your writing, Deb, but wordy is not a term I would use to describe it. Relatable and concise is my initial impression.
Difficult thoughts and realities to put into words, but it’s there! The miracle of Christ’s birth, in more ways than one. “He made Himself nothing so we could gain hope in a wee Babe’s face.” Somehow I don’t think we can truly appreciate that reality; until we are home and changed into His image. It will probably give a whole new depth to Dave’s “awesomeness”! Blessings, Deb!
Dear Bruce, I think you are right about that. And what a day that will be! Until then I’m so grateful to have friends like you that keep me moving the right direction! 😉 Blessings back!❤️
We do tend to sanitize our versions of things, don’t we? A clean stable with fresh straw, well-behaved animals, and a “Little Lord Jesus” who “no crying He makes.” The Bible says Jesus cried as a Man. Pretty sure that means He cried as a Baby, too. He was human … that was kinda the point, wasn’t it? Call me a nit-picker, but I tend to skip verse 2 of “Away in a Manger” and go right on to the beautiful third verse. <3
Have a blessed and beautiful Christmas, Deb.
Great post on the nativity. Thanks.
I also love Todd’s critique of your poem. My sister-in-law once said of my blog, “Tim doesn’t talk like that!” (which I found amusing). And my wife told me a while ago, “your poems must be getting better because I don’t understand them anymore.” 🙂
Tim, that’s why we writer’s need each other. It can be a little lonely at times. But a little loneliness is worth it when the Spirit is at work,—doing a work in us, and then (hopefully) through our words.❤️ I admit my husband is usually pretty spot on. (I don’t always listen to him though)😉
It’s all there in your words Deb (not wordy). The wonder and mystery of it all and the actual smell of a stable as well. I grew up milking and feeding cows, tending pigs and sheep and cleaning the barn. No matter how clean the straw (changed daily), the barn always smelled the same give or take temperatures. My barn coat was kept a long ways from any clothes I would wear to school. The shepherds were ok with it I’m sure. Not sure about the rest of the world.
This is a beautiful way to describe the humble beginnings to Jesus’ life.
Gary, you just brought all the scents and smells of my youth—the barn, the stalls, my father’s jacket. And the boots my mother made him keep in the garage. It does grow on you and I guess it never leaves you. 😉❤️
Stephanie, thank you, I appreciate your feedback so much. ❤️