What’s In Your Manger?

God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illuminated by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.

~ Dag Hammarskjold

What good is it to me if Mary gave birth to the son of God fourteen hundred years ago and I do not also give birth to the son of God in my time and in my culture?

~Meister Eckhart

 

 If you were raised Christian, you might have some memories, like me, of unpacking and creating the nativity scene in your home during the Advent season.  We had a few of them at my house: the one my parents brought back from their visit to Jerusalem, the ones my brother and I made from uncooked macaroni noodles in Sunday School, and the teeny-tiny one with a fake tree and baby Jesus that were irresistible toys for the cats.  “Has anyone seen the baby Jesus?” my Mom would question, her head poking under the chairs and shelves, hoping to repair the fragmented story and invite its anticipated outcome.

 

The nativity pieces from Jerusalem were my favorite.  In addition to the usual suspects, there were animals, shepherds, wise men and camels.  My Mom would let me create the scene, reminding me that the three kings arrived later and therefore, shouldn’t be in the stable with Mary and Joseph, but rather en route.  Years later, in the home of my spiritual director, I stood dazzled and mesmerized by her nativity, an annual original creation, that covered her entire dining table.  Every animal figurine you can (and can’t) imagine – scorpions, dolphins, emus and dogs, serpents, chickens, and unicorns – were making their way across the loooooooong dining table to see the new baby.  Seeing the scene depicted in this way, allowed me to expand its scope.  In this overtly mythic and more cosmic unfolding, I could find myself in new facets of the story.

 

It’s from this place this year, I’ve been falling in love again with the Christmas story.  Whether or not you celebrate this holiday, I encourage you to consider and live the metaphors alive this week….

 

You are on a journey, to be counted with everyone else, in the census.  Given the circumstances, and putting it plainly, this journey might sort of suck.  And there’s this Angel thing.  A sign, a dream, a moment of serendipity or surprise that suggested there is something very important on your horizon.  What is it?  It’s in you and it’s beyond you…and it’s coming!!!  And, with all this anticipation, and with all this uncertainty, you keep walking toward a new place; a very simple, earthy space.  And in that spot, inconvenient and unfamiliar, but supported by the vision that is in you and beyond you, you birth a spark of Divinity.  What, dear friends, is in your manger?

My nativity scene, 2013

My nativity scene, 2013

 

Peace, blessings and love to you this season

and in the dawn of a new year.

Inciting Epiphanies

Hello, and welcome to Lauren’s Blog!

 

Yesterday was the Twelfth Day of Christmas, or Epiphany.  For Christians, Epiphany marks the day the Wise Men finally arrived, having followed a star, to behold theChristChild.   It is, in essence, a “making real” of the event.  After the rather homely beginning in a manger with shepherds and barn animals, and after the rest of us respond by staying home from work, singing “Silent Night,” and “Away in a Manger” lullabies, and celebrating with our loved ones, the Magi arrive and up the ante: “This baby is a big deal.  We need to protect him and there are repercussions for us all!”

 

It’s a good story on its own and symbolically, there’s a LOT here.  I am arriving in these first days of the New Year feeling so grateful for the ways Nature pointedly guides us through the final days of December – the DARKEST days of the year (Northern Hemisphere native, that I am) – and provides a transition plan so that we might receive the increasing length and brightness of the Sun (or Son) in the days to come.  I’m obviously not describing yuletide practices as instructed by mainstream media, but if you’re reading this, you’re likely not either.

 

In short, Epiphany seems to me a great season to go *live* with my blog.  This entry and the one before it (Dec. 31st) mark my own movement from 2011, through the Solstice, and into the beginning of a New Year.  I would be beyond pleased if even a morsel of something written here incites an epiphany for you, or someone, somewhere:

 

epiphany [ih-pif-uh-nee] 

1. an appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity;

2. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or
essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple,
homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
(dictionary.reference.com)

 

 

More importantly, as you live into these first days of 2012, may epiphanies happen!  Plain and simple.  May they happen within you, in the lives of those you care about, in the lives of those we do not know, in our communities and throughout the world.  A new day dawns….

 

On Aug, 27, 2011, International Space Station astronaut Ron Garan used a high definition camer to film one of the sixteen sunrises astronauts see each day. This image shows the rising sun along a path between Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Image credit: NASA

 

Happy New Year and thanks for reading!

 

Acknowledgements: This blog has been loooong in coming.  I would be remiss if I didn’t offer gratitude to those who nudged and pushed me along in its creation: Dad-lee, T. Taylor, A. Brucker, M.M., CMK & the EOL community, C. Morris, “V.P.K.,” B. Arnall, Davemo, M. Abed, A. Lattanand, M. Himel, and the students at ChI.