Come To The Manger
What I’d like to relate here, is what happened during the Advent Season several years ago.
I went to an old church in Lemont, Il to meet with Fr. Shent for Confession and Spiritual Advice. I shared with him that each year during the Christmas Season an anger would rise within me. There were many people to buy Christmas gifts for and so little time to do it. My work at the Post Office left little time for anything else. Each year I would get sucked into the very thing that I disliked the most about the Season; all the materialism, and felt cheated out of the very thing I liked the most; the simpleness and poverty of that first Christmas Night.
Fr. Shent tried to advise me the best that he could, but I left him, still feeling that there really was no true answer. Before I left the church I decided to spend some time in front of the simple manger scene just to the right of the altar. I prayed about my situation and I heard Mary say,
“Just come to the manger. Don’t bring all your concerns. Don’t even bring all your normal prayers. Just come, be with us.”
So in my imagination, each day I went to the Manger, and a peace came with each visit. Each day I would make a visit, and each day I felt more of the peace of the Christmas Season. Also each day my imagined visit would become more detailed. I’d see Joseph on the other side of the trough, and Mary at the head beckoning me to come closer for a better look; the Baby sleeping so content. On other visits, I’d hear the crunch of fresh straw as I entered. I’d once again go to the trough to see the Baby. The top edges of the wood were all shiny, burnished from all the animal fur that had brushed up against it over the years. I felt the cool air on my cheeks, balanced by the light and warmth of a few lanterns, closer to where the baby was. There were even times when I would imagine myself resting beneath the trough. Others would come and go to see the Child Jesus, but I would lie there unnoticed and out of the way.
There were many comforting moments, no particular prayers, just being in the presence of this Baby, who I knew was the Creator of everything. And although I didn’t worry about gifts that year, everyone miraculously got one, a good and meaningful one, as if especially picked for each person by God Himself.