Thank you for stopping by my blog.

I write day after day because I discover extraordinary lessons from ordinary life experiences. I record my visual portraits of everyday life filled with something sacred in hopes that my reflections might bring an insight that blesses my readers.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Manger is Empty but the Light is Still On

I have been reading The Manger Is Empty by Walter Wangerin.  His allegorical tales of the beauty and mystery of Christ’s birth have penetrated my heart.  As you who read me often,  understand that I love to meditate on the scriptures. I  try to put myself in Bethlehem the night of our dear Savior’s birth.  I enjoy visualizing Mary and Joseph and their reactions to Gabriel’s news to them.  I cannot know the details, but I understand the spirit of the words of the gospel depictions of that sacred night in the inn.  I realize that there was darkness all about the land. 

Man’s sinful nature had darkened the land and man’s heart.  We , mankind, needed a light.  Not a small candle, not a flaming chandelier, but we needed a light so bright , so immersing that it would reflect in our soul forever.  That was when God incarnate came to this earth as a tiny babe.  God chose a baby to communicate His message of love.

I know why.  Who is not allured by the cooing of a new born?  Who of you has seen the birth of a child?  It is at the very moment that babe takes his first breath that you ,the bystander, recognize a miracle. 

In 1970 , I helped start a school for teenage mothers at the YWCA.  I was called to be a part of this because when I taught at Central in 1969, pregnant girls were not allowed to attend public school.  Who needed an education more than a fifteen year old young lady with child?  I asked to help.  My superior was a fifty year old spinster with definite feelings about young girls out of wedlock.  I am not sure whether God put me there for me to nourish my  boss or nurture the young moms and babes.  I suspect I needed a little molding and purifying too.  My boss and I sharpened each other like steel against steel.  However, neither of us lost sight of our goal, which was to help the pregnant girl adjust to  motherhood and complete her education.  Retrospectively, I see how amazing that was.  We were both hard headed but big hearted.  We both wanted to make a difference in their lives.  I was called and she was assigned this new duty.  Together, with God’s grace, we built a mini school that facilitated education and parenting.

I would hear the phone at 2 a.m. and a soft voice would say, “ What are you doing Mrs. B?” 
I replied, “Just sleeping.  Do you need something?” 
“Yes, I am in labor, can you come to the hospital with me?”
“ Sure , I will be there shortly.”

It was the grandest opportunity of my teaching career.  I was chosen to be her encourager, or her birth coach, or her advocate.  Few father’s arrived to witness the birth of their babies.  Most of the fathers were long gone after the announcement of the pregnancy. Because of the moral embarrassment, many daughters and moms had become alienated.  I was just a neutral person who counted it all joy to witness the birth of a babe.  I heard the cry of the mother and tried to keep her focused.  When I heard the cry of the babe, I knew God was present. His light was there.  He breathed life into this little babe and made him whole.  I felt like the shepherds who witnessed the sky splitting open and allowing blinding light to guide them to the new babe.  Regardless of the circumstances, each birth I witnessed clarified my understanding of  a God so big, so miraculous, so creative that  I could not wrap my mind around His abilities, His gifts, His wisdom, or His ways. 

It has been many years since I was called to be a part of the birth process.  I did have one friend that asked me to come with her and her husband to be by their side at their first born son.  It still awed me how great our God is.

So, star of wonder , star of bright lead me to His holy sight.  I am praying that melody as I look upon the light given to our world.  Mary too was a young teen in a culture that did not accept births out of wedlock.  Both Mary and my former students were misunderstood.  Mary brought us Jesus supernaturally.  Jesus brought light into our dark world, our dark hearts.  The birth of a babe is a supernatural way to teach us of unconditional love.  Mary taught that.  My teenagers taught me that.  Most importantly, Jesus taught that for all the world to see, not just the wise men, not just Joseph and Mary, but all of us who cherishes the manger story each Advent season. 

Please share this story with your children, your grandchildren , and your neighbors and help them know the light that illuminated the earth two thousand years ago as well as today. During this busy season, take time to tell this old, old story and join in this Christmas season by bringing light to others.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful story to be retold over and over again, both the Lord's and your own. What a unique teacher you were and continue to be. (Even though you receive no salary for it now.) I'm not sure that I'd have had that kind of courage at so young an age. However, knowing you, the passion made you move mountains to bring justice to those young girls. How lucky they were to have you in their lives. I'm sure at the time, they might not have realized it. But with education, one can make a difference in her own life and that of her child. I am always inspired by your gift and your faith. I do believe it's beginning to rub off on me, proving that an old dog can learn new tricks!