Away in the Manger

Since the Christmas season doesn’t truly end until the Feast of the Epiphany, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

In unrelated news, I want to thank you all for your visiting. I’m happy to see that what I have to share has gotten a small viewership. I will also be blogging at Ignitum Today. My first post over there will be on January 9, 2012. I will be joining their regular blog roll at that time.

Onto today’s post…

Living in Iowa has provided a few perspectives on life that has had a great impact on my life. I’ve gotten to know the people, the culture and even gotten to understand what kind of impact the family farm does have on an area. When I lived in Minnesota, I had everything at my fingertips. It wasn’t a long distance to travel to see my family, I could get anything I needed as I wanted it, everything was there. I wouldn’t think of it any other way. I didn’t live in a giant metropolitan area, but I could get anything I wanted, at any time, and my night owl status didn’t need to be compromised.

My move to Iowa was a bit of a shock. Anything I wanted was at least an hour away, I knew no one, I was kinda lost. Although this wasn’t my first time living  in an isolated area, it was my first time isolated and alone. I sat many nights alone in my apartment, glued to my phone, hoping and praying someone would talk to me. I then got over myself and started exploring. Sure things weren’t as accessible but that’s where creativity needed to be abundant.

I went hiking, exploring, driving, and became a bit more familiar with the surroundings. Sure, it wasn’t my element yet but I was getting there. Then came the day I actually got to see a farm. There were many things that I wasn’t familiar with. I knew farming was hard, dirty work. A few of my friends in high school had farms, but they were mostly used to sustain themselves, not be their way of making a living. Sure, I was prepared for all this, but that was just a line I had been feeding myself. Who was I kidding, certainly not myself. I worked hard, I enjoyed it and it reminded me of when I worked in the taconite mines back home. Exhausting but refreshing, it was honest work.

Feeding was something that did come to a shock to me. Animal barns and pens themselves are messy, then the animals become  intrigued as, oh yeah, I am the one with the food. Cows would eat lazily while pigs would be at their trough instantly. Please remember this is one visit and only by memory. Then I remember today, praying before mass and looking at the clean, tidy cresh that is in the corner of the sanctuary. It’s beautiful, handmade and used with great care. There isn’t a piece out of place and even the straw seems meticulously placed.

But here’s the truth, the stable where Mary and Joseph needed to go was just that, a stable. In Bethlehem, it was more than likely a small cave rather than a building. The Church of the Nativity currently resides at this place. Then rather than a crib or a basket, Jesus was laid in the manger, let sleep in the feeding trough.

“and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

Luke 2:7

I don’t know if this is the first, tenth, hundredth time hearing this, but today it hit me. In a dank, dirty world, in need of a savior; a baby, weak and susceptible to illness and the elements, is born in a stable. Then let rest in a manger with hay, left for the animals to feed on through the night. Even at his birth, there were signs showing Jesus’ purpose.

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

John 6:51

Whether or not the shepherds, or the magi, (who are still in transit) believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah, here in the arms of a young girl or in the feeding trough, was a child whose birth changed all of history.

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