[ WordBytes on Spiritual Growth ]

Mary and her precious baby JesusI love babies. Anyone who knows me well knows this statement to be true. There’s just something incredibly wonderful about new life. I feel such a sense of wonder and awe and peace when I catch sight of a bundle in it’s mother’s arms and am instantly drawn into their charm. I usually stop whatever I’m doing to take a closer peek and tell the mother what a beautiful baby she has.

Today I had the pleasure of meeting baby Matthew, a two month old sibling of one of my students. Mom had come in for a conference toting the little fellow. Before I knew it, I began to unbuckle his little infant seat and then immediately realized I needed to get his mother’s permission to hold him. She laughed and generously allowed me to pick him up. He gave me a giant toothless grin with eyes shining brightly at the new attention he was getting. I proceeded to completely melt right there on the spot. As I cooed and spoke unintelligible jargon to the baby, I wondered if this mother could ever take anything I said during the conference with any credibility. However, when I looked at her, she seemed to delight in the fact that someone was so taken with her precious child. For a few priceless moments, time seemed to slow down and the simplicity of life, the joy of caressing such purity, and inhaling the sweet scent of a baby overshadowed any other demands of my day.

Later in the afternoon I hurried about running countless errands. I had so much to do and I began to get anxious thinking about how I was going to accomplish so much before Christmas. The tree isn’t up, the decorations are still packed away in boxes. There are presents to buy, cards to be written and cookies to be baked. And then I remembered the calmness, the peace, the joy I experienced holding little Matthew.

That thought gave birth to another and soon my mind wandered. I began to ponder the Baby Jesus. Just as I had approached the young mother this morning, in my mind’s eye I saw myself approach Mary, holding her newborn son in her arms. That same peace I had felt earlier returned and enveloped me. I understood that this interior vision was taking me to the stable in Bethlehem. Will you come with me? Let’s allow our minds to take a little Advent journey together.

The bright star in the sky has led us here. We shiver in the cold night air and we find ourselves just outside the stable. As much as we long to fling open the doors and see this Heavenly spectacle, we wonder if we have the courage to enter the place where we know the King of Kings has come into the world. Yet we remember that He is a Baby, a tiny Child resting in the arms of His mother. He did not choose to come in splendor with much pomp and circumstance. He came in humility and poverty so that we could easily draw near without any fear of rejection.

And so we enter quietly so as to not disturb Him. Mary looks up to see new guests arrive and smiles with great tenderness. With her eyes she shows us that she is happy to see us and then motions for us to come closer. Our hearts race as we draw nearer. And then, His eyes open. He knows we are there. Joy floods our entire being as we drop to our knees to adore Him. Mary looks lovingly at Joseph and then lifts her child to place Him in our arms. With brightened eyes that seem to see into our very souls, He smiles. His little Hands reach out to touch our face. The chill that was in the air disappears and warmth embraces us. We press Him close to our hearts, kiss His tiny head, and whisper a prayer. His peace fills us to overflowing and our joy is unspeakable. Tenderly we place him back into His mother’s arms, and as we depart, we realize we will never be the same again.

That short spiritual journey is one we should take often during Advent. How easy it has become for us to forget why we celebrate Christmas. God became like one of us. He came to us as a little Baby. He came to save us. Perhaps we need to try a little harder to keep that awareness during the busy days that lie ahead. And when the anxiety and stress starts to rise up, remember the Baby.

In ending, I want to let you know something very interesting about little Matthew. He was chosen to be the Baby Jesus in our school’s Christmas pageant.

Blessed Advent to all of you and may your Christmas be filled with wonder and awe.

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© 2010 by Elyse O’Kane
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