Sitting by the manger

“Behold this wonder: a living, moving, startling likeness of who we are, who God is; what God awakens, when God sleeps on the crossing wood of our manger. We have lost the wonder of it all, lost the gratitude, lost the likeness of who we are, who we are meant to love, how life again could matter. No wonder, God came to us as a child in a manger.”Startle, Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ

St. Ignatius de Loyola taught us to use imagination whenever we prayed.

Because of the hustle and bustle of December, personal matters, and setting goals for 2018, I admit that I haven’t been feeling Christmas fully as much as I did before.

I lost the spirit of quiet reflection and the power of contemplative imagination. What did this season mean to me? Why has God given His Son again on this day? Why was I not preparing my soul and heart for Christ the babe coming on this Christmas Eve?

So this late afternoon, propped on the bed, I began reading the devotional for December 24 from Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift. I also opened my Bible Diary which I haven’t read for the longest time this year. I began reacquainting myself again with knowledge of Christ’s coming.

Then the thought hit me: an image of myself, sitting on the ground, hugging my legs, gazing at a baby on a straw bed.

I was lit by orange light – light from an oil lamp hung in the dirty ceiling of a manger. Near me are a few animals, also in the presence of the baby. Beside the child is a carpenter and a young woman, quietly looking at him with awe and love.

Behind them are three wise men, holding their gifts as they too take in the moment of being with this child.

I imagine myself there, gazing at God incarnate, sleeping on a straw bed on a cold night. What gift do I give? What words do I say?

The baby awoke, looked around, at his parents, at the three wise men, and then he glanced at me. Suddenly, I am filled with warmth and acknowledgment.

This baby’s glance told me that he came for me. He came for others. He told me, “I see you.”

God incarnate on a straw bed, what did I do to deserve You?

Nothing, for You are love.

And love just does.

Let me end this post with a writing from a favorite author, Madeleine L’Engle:

“This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war and hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out & the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honour and truth were trampled by scorn –
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by a comet the sky is torn –
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.”

Merry Christmas to you, my friend, wherever you are in this world. May the love of God bring joy in your heart and home. 

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