Be The Light
The Christmas season in my house has always been a time of wonder, mystery and excitement. From the fresh boughs of pine branches to the smell of extra special baking, the glow of candles and the sounds of the season, my senses are at their height. My ears seem more attuned, my eyes are taking it all in, and I’m often hands deep into homemade projects. We often make gifts for each other knowing the time we put in is one way to show our love.
One of my favorite holiday traditions is to listen to an old southern French story about the birth of Jesus. It is told in a southern accent by the archangel Gabriel who just like the other characters in the story is as human as me and you. The story, set in a small village, is about the transformation of human lives caused by the mystery of the birth.
Though based in the Catholic faith, no matter our backgrounds, it brings us, the listeners, in as it touches on the hope all humans have. The characters are well aware of each other’s foibles since they live and work together in their small village. The news of the birth brings about a new acceptance and understanding of each other, like major events in our lives do. To accompany the story, there are painted porcelain figures that people buy and use to make elaborate manger scenes that include a village with all its inhabitants. Of course, I had to purchase the miller with his bag of flour, the baker with her bread in hand and the pesto maker sitting with her mortar and pestle, crushing garlic.
One year, when I still had the bakery, my staff and I decided to watch for the nativity characters in our everyday interactions. We were not surprised when the Virgin Mary walked in with her blue veil over her hair, and words of wisdom on her lips. Next, we were visited by the shepherd. With his dog in one hand and a staff in the other, he was a man of few words. Joseph and the angel also made their appearance. We were starting to like this game. And then, one day, three women walked in with a map. They were trying to get to their destination but, they told us, for some reason beyond their control and knowledge, they had arrived here. They showed us their map and could not figure out how they had veered so far off course...The three of us just looked at each other, mouthing the words “The three wise men”! All of a sudden, we realized that involuntarily we had entered the Christmas story and we were living it out right here.
But isn’t that what it’s all about? Just like in those miniature elaborate nativity scenes, here I am in my community, doing my work, trying to find common ground with other inhabitants. I go about my daily life, looking at the big picture but living it intimately right here. In a small corner, somewhere, where we might not notice it, love becomes incarnate, and it changes one person at a time. May I be that love for someone this season!