Tag Archives: nativity

Sparks will fly #51 #Advent

A new decade is about to arrive, the birth pangs are real with groans, pants, waiting to take a deeper breath to do a deeper push and expel from the safety of the birth canal, whatever this is I have been carrying for what seems to be longer than any other pregnancy I have held. Unlike real pregnancy no one stops to rub my tummy, ask for a due date, if I have picked a name or how is my nesting going …. But there have been midwives and other medicine men and women, with a range of expertise and there have been angels and saints invoked. Like the first nativity, people are coming from far away places to see what is arriving. Others are looking to the stars for some explanations and others working out what to bring to the stable. The poetry of moving to my new home on this last week of Advent in this last week of the decade is so heartening and a cosmic coincidence that supports me in ways I could have only imagined a year ago. Last night I had a little person sleeping in my bed, he slept with ease and confidence, and the gift burst my heart. My own nativity. His cuddly toys, a range of real and imaginary creatures bearing witness, as authentic as any cow or sheep in a field.

I have always loved Advent. I love the idea of preparation, of waiting, the expectant nature that the best is yet to come …. And what we already have is pretty good! It is time that invites us to keep moving to return to our family home, to be accounted for, a time that brings creation, politics, travel and cosmology into one glorious piece of complexity made simple with the birth of a child. It’s the story to remind me of what it means to be vulnerable to lead, to means to have heralds announce your arrival, to have the wise outside of our culture to value what me might not yet understand, to have the stars align. It is a time for me when I reflect on what is being born in me, what is waiting to be celebrated and what might be emerging.

I end this decade so completely differently to how I started it. I am definitely older and wiser. I have experienced the absolute worst of times in this decade. I have been recognised and celebrated in surprising and compassionate ways. I have walked, jumped and ran. There have been numerous sprints which have served as bridges from one state to another.

I have learnt so much this year – it is has been about integration and using my past to inform my future. There is no tomorrow that today has not prepared me for in some way. There is no part of me that can’t be deployed, recycled or reinvented to meet the challenges ahead. I have everything I need and I just need to remember that truth.

Those faithful witnesses to my life are precious to me and have been as important as any king or shepherd. They are the ones who have detected the sparks when I didn’t know they could fly. I bow down as deeply as I can, with a full heart of gratitude, wonder and awe at the birthing process and remaining open and curious to what this next decade will hold.

Nativity

Dear Sor Juana,

Holding a newborn in my arms this week reminded me of the first time I did this as a new Mum, the smell of the soft skin and the sheer amazement that a little person – like every other creature on earth – had been born. This one created from love. There really can’t be enough love in the world.

The vulnerability and innocence of a child is breathtaking and it is no wonder that your God chose incarnation in this way to send the strongest of messages of what it means to trust. Each nativity scene in homes and hospitals around the world brings to birth not just a child, but the entire universal story and all of creation rejoices. You found a silversmith to make a nativity scene to give to your beloved benefactor by way of emulating her childbirth to the one in Bethlehem – every birth is divine and there is no mistaking its provenance.

The journey to birth isn’t always easy, for some it is long awaited, medically assisted; for others accidental and surprising. However the journey is made the child comes to greet us and tell us the story of trust and for me that is Divine Inspiration.

In my moments of uncertainty and anxiety I could do well to be like the babe in arms and trust in the Universe to provide and meet all my needs. Perhaps this is what is meant in the scriptures you loved so to “be like a child”? To be held by a loving parent, friend or family member, even a stranger is comforting. No words are needed, just gentle arms holding so I can take a breath, leaning into for respite and just to be. The everyday transactions of being held and to hold are nativity moments for the pilgrim to rest before taking another step on the same journey that started by being held.

I loved seeing the original of this painting in Florence joining my gaze with the mesmerising eyes of the children.

Gerrit van Honthorst  Adoration of the Child c.1620  Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Gerrit van Honthorst
Adoration of the Child c.1620
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence