My husband bought me a breathtaking nativity for Christmas this year. I’ve wanted one since we were married twenty-six years ago, and I pause each time I pass the dining room to admire each of the twenty-four figures. From angels in flight, to doting wise men, and a lowly donkey, it is intricately carved, painted, and positioned to face the manger where the Christ child sleeps.
But I do have another nativity, one that my daughter made for me while in the third grade. I remember unwrapping her gift to find four blocks of wood that could easily fit in my hands. Her teacher had helped her trace a little lamb, Joseph, Mary, and the crèche with a black Sharpie marker, and I could tell she had carefully colored within the lines to finish her project.
‘That one is like you, Mommy,” Hannah had said, pointing to the figure of Mary. “You do the same thing.”
At the time I wasn’t sure what she meant, so I nodded and thanked her for the beautiful gift. But today I find myself admiring both mothers, with their faces gazing towards a future unknown. Like Hannah pointed out so many years before, I like to believe that Mary too, prayed for courage and strength to raise her child in a world that felt hostile and overwhelming. I also like to think that from those who surrounded her new family, she received an abundance of hope and grace for the days to come.
So, in two days time, I will not only celebrate the birth of a man who undeniably changed the world, but I will also celebrate all the mothers who, like Mary, stared at their child on the day they were born, and prayed they would shine light into the darkness.
May you receive the light of the world,