I mentioned, a few posts back, that I intended to reunite all members of the nativity ensemble for a gigantic birthday party for Jesus. I did just that, although the blue ceramic group as well as the clear glass gang all sat out this event and had their own gathering in other rooms of the house. Above, you see a fine reprensentation of the various members of our nativity sets.
As I cleaned up yesterday, which included taking the ornaments off of the tree, hauling the tree out to the back deck, wrapping and packing Christmas dishes and picking up scattered decorative things sitting around the house, I gave myself a moment when I got ready to clean off this shelf. The implications of this tattered, diverse group gazing at baby Jesus (actually, there are TWO baby Jesus’s here…) touch me in a significant way.
First of all, our family nativity sets are all damaged in some way. Headless shepherds, broken pieces, missing parts. Damaged goods. I often feel that way about my life, or perhaps more specifically, about the fullness of my life. Some parts are in good shape, or at least appear to be highly functioning. Other aspects are disorganized, missing, chaotic. Broken. It’s somewhat reassuring to think that – like this gathering – it’s okay to simply gather up whatever you’ve got and lay it out, in full view. It is what it is.
Secondly, it’s a diverse group here. Various styles, different ways that artisans have chosen to represent the people gathered at the birth of Jesus. From the cloth, stuffed set (created years ago by my mom, when the kids were younger and the danger of breakage was greatest), to the simple, clean lines of the wooden Mary. The tiny fellows in front are from my own childhood; I always loved the deep black skin of the shepherd looking skyward, and the bald guy with what looks like a wash basin.
Interesting, too, that out of all these different sets, only two Jesus figures remain. Jesus tends to get lost, buried, set aside. We’ve never broken a Jesus figurine – just misplaced or overlooked him.
There’s a metaphor that needs no explanation.
As we glide into a new year, I hope that my life looks more like this during the coming months. I’d like to say that my heart becomes more open, less judgmental. I hope that my kids learn to see more than what’s in their frame of reference; that they are able to witness the fullness of the kingdom of God, in spite of the limitations of their culture.
I think this mishmash nativity is the metaphor I’ll cling to today, rather than make any grandiose resolutions that I probably won’t keep anyway.
(Although I did start the day with 50 crunches and 20 pushups, something I’d like to continue – daily – for the next 364 days!)
Happy New Year!