I live in Michigan. Not the warmest state in the winter months. Christmas is gifted with snow nearly every year. Most Michiganders covet the white stuff for a Christmas Eve and a Christmas morning. It’s nature’s addition to all the Christmas decorations.
It’s during this time of year that I feel a pull, an understanding of the nativity. Many people, and of course churches, have a nativity scene showcased in the front of their buildings; prominently displayed on front lawns with singular lights shining upon them.
There is usually a minimal of figures represented: Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, and usually the three wise men, maybe an angel, and maybe an animal.
It’s in the quietude of winter, when darkness dominates the day, and the snow folds its chilly, white arms around the nativity scenes that I can feel the isolation of the little holy family.
Two thousand and some years ago the little family tried desperately to find a place to stay the night in Bethlehem. Mary, full bellied with child, and her husband Joseph were seeking shelter, but offered only a stable. A place full of stink, and solitude to stay the night.
Mary goes into labor with neither mother nor doula to assist her. Just her husband, a carpenter, whose child wasn’t even being born that night. I try to imagine the pain, and the fear that Mary was feeling as the Christ child made its way down the birth canal and out into the world.
He was born, King of Kings, swathed in the humility of rags with the stench of animals, and hay for bedding. He was placed in a trough, a filthy feeding bin for animals.
I’m not sure how much more humble or lowly the birth of this child could have been. It amazes me that within his six to seven pound frame was the hope for the entire salvation of the human race. The singular being that would teach the world that Love is the only language of God.
It is in Michigan’s cold, dark winters that I can imagine that feeling, that fear, and that hope. So far removed from the desert, time and language of Jesus’ actual birth.
But, yet, in the lengthening darkness, in the snow, with a singular light dancing off the faces of plastic figures not representing the actual facial features of this tiny Jewish, Middle Eastern family, I can feel them. I can feel them across, time, space, and location.
I wonder if the little king of all creation knew it in his borning cry that I would hear him two thousand years later, in a mitten state across the oceans of water and time.