Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nativity Bluefield Style...

 So when I younger I always wanted to be Mary in our family nativity.  Then I got older and had competition when Em and Eliza realized that Mary was the star of the show and got to ride on whoever was the designated donkey that year; so I spent a few years demoted to the angel position.   Now as a 28 year old in the Bluefield ward, my nativity dreams are once again coming true and we were chosen to be the holy family at this years ward Christmas party.  May I point out just a few of my favorite treasures...

1. The pillowcase I grabbed to swaddle up Big Liv was far too small. It was more like a loin cloth toga than swaddling gear.  I think she was a little self conscious of her rolls in front of all the Bethleham citizens...

2. Aaron (the little black sheep to the right of me) was in a comatose state and could not be woken by Georgia strumming away in a manger on her guitar, the singing of heavenly angels behind or anything else.  So for the large portion of the nativity I supported his forehead with my elbow and Liv in her loin cloth with the other arm....

3. I was curious who the lady on the right was supposed to be because she sat on the couch with us the whole time.  I didn't know if she was my competition or Mary the gothic understudy or what.  When I asked the person in charge she said matter of factly, "She's the midwife."  Oh. Right. I must have forgotten. All these years I have been leaving out a crucial role. It only makes sense though, after a donkey ride labor, who wouldn't welcome a midwife to a barn birth?  I also enjoyed the terrorist shepherd in the middle and his lovely wife.

4. The full cast.  I don't care what professional costumes the wiseman in the Luke 2 movie had, nothing beats the two wisemen on the left.  Those are their authentic wisemen bellies and real beards.  They were born to be wisemen. I need to call the church so they can recast and film the movie because they won't get better stars.

I had a new appreciation for Mary and the young family this year as I thought and related to what it could have been like. They didn't have years to travel, to play and "get to know each other" before pregnancy (I can relate). I'm pretty sure the last thing she wanted to do at 9 months pregnant is leave their home on a donkey road trip.   She probably "pondered those things in her heart" because she had no one to discuss them with except for the Lord and her husband.  Mary didn't bring all her college room mates or have a cell phone to call her sister on speed dial. They had each other, and their faith in the Lord.  That's it. They were probably worried about finances and how they were going to pay back Joseph's loans from carpenter school. There was no way she could see what all her friends were doing by checking facebook.  As nice as visitors would have been, the last thing I would have wanted when I had a baby would be a bunch of stinky men who sleep in the fields, beating a drum (pa rum pa pum pum) and filling my hospital room with their smelly sheep and then later, a few rich strangers from the east bringing extremely impractical baby shower gifts.

Yet from the moment he was born, I think Mary knew it would never be about her. Somehow she knew that "her" baby was not hers. He belonged to those shepherds, to the busy overbooked inn keeper, to the wisemen, to the kings and to the homeless, to people that lived thousands of years ago and would touch his robes, and to those people today you use their i-touch to read about him on lds.org.  He was born for me, for every single imperfect human born.

I don't let Liv be babysat for even 15 minutes. I get a little bugged when other people hold her for too long or breathe their germs in the same room as her.   She is my baby. She always will be. I can't imagine the unselfishness it would require as a mother to know that from the moment of birth, that child belongs to the world, to the worst, the meanest, and weakest in all of us.  That is why we need Him and why He came into this world.  There really is "Joy to the world" because "The Lord has Come."  But before the shepherds showed and the ultimate birth announcement spotlight star shown and angels sang, I like to think that Mary got to spend some holy moments alone, as his mother, just smelling him, kissing his neck and face and staring in awe at her baby that she carried for so long, and would soon carry the world. I don't think there is anything more sacred as a mother than after the birth when the nurses are done bringing in sumo sized ice packs, taking your blood pressure and poking your baby, and the door shuts and you are left as a family.

There is a sacred feeling that is unlike anything I have ever felt when you hold someone you feel like you have already known and loved your entire life and your world changes forever because that tiny crying cone headed baby is now your world, your life, and the purpose for your existence. There is nothing more holy, more powerful or more overwhelming.  I can't imagine feeling that, and then knowing that I could not keep Liv to myself forever. That she was born for something far greater than to just be "my" baby.  It's a sacred experience to think about so many mothers are like Mary more than they realize when they too do not get to keep their babies to themselves here on Earth. I am always eternally thankful to that babe born in the manger. This year, I am also thankful to his mother, who knew why He was born and not just once but I imagine hundreds of times had to say, and remind herself that she said, "Behold the Handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word."

"At the focal point of all human history, a point illuminated by a new star in the heavens revealed for just such a purpose, probably no other mortal watched--none but a poor young carpenter, a beautiful virgin mother, and silent stabled animals who had not the power to utter the sacredness they had seen. Shepherds would soon arrive and later, wise men from the East. Later yet the memory of that night would bring Santa Claus and Frosty and Rudolph--and all would be welcome. But first and forever there was just a little family, without toys or trees or tinsel. With a baby--that's how Christmas began. It is for this baby that we shout in chorus: 'Hark! the herald angels sing Glory to the newborn King! . . . Mild he lays his glory by, Born that man no more may die; Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth' ( Hymns, no. 209)."
--Jeffrey R. Holland, "Without Ribbons and Bows", New Era, Dec. 1994, 6

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