Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Nativity, encore

The Nativity story has survived 2000 years. It is rich with hardship and with joy, celebrating a birth that happens far from home. I like the part of the wise visitors who follow a very bright star or comet, to reach the birthplace. I like that it takes place outdoors, under a starry sky. Almost every artwork or other representation of the Nativity pictures other animals, present and calm, as well as humans. There may be a donkey, who carried the mother while she was in labor. An ox or a cow is usually included. Chickens sometimes are there, and a camel near the wise men. I can't think of any other popular stories where a human infant is born amidst other species. Their presence may have helped keep the birthplace warm. And I like that there are shepherds, informed in the dark of night by angels singing. The shepherds show up with their staffs and their sheep, curious about a baby born in an open barn, moved by the mom, dad, and baby with their halos glowing.

I see I wrote about the Nativity last December, not that long ago, and don't know why it came up again today. There are those who believe the birth actually occurred in spring, when the sheep were lambing.

Here is the the previous entry I posted:

There are few folktales, myths, songs, or stories from history that celebrate the experience of giving birth. The most notable exception is the Christmas eve celebration of the Nativity, the Biblical story of the birth of a Jewish baby two thousand years ago who was named Jesus and who became the holy man who is at the core of Christian religions. Whether or not one is Christian, many appreciate the story, and all that it carries, of a baby born far from home in the starry night in the only housing available to the journeying parents: a barn with a feed trough that was a perfect size to hold a newborn. It's the only story I know of a birth surrounded by other species on our planet: the donkey, the cow, possibly some sheep and chickens, some angels, and eventually a camel or two. It's the story of the birth of a specific child, but it's also the story of every birth, the story that every newborn is a wondrous gift.

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