Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Right Here in a Manger

I know as Truth that a special babe was humbly born in a stable. Now, I've heard some say that the stable was a cave, a shepherd's cote outside of Bethlehem; womb/tomb - amniotic semiotics. The farmer in my past wonders, what bedding did the sheep share? Could it have been fronds from local palms? Hosanna to the King?

Others have said that the animals were kept in the house as was common at the time, sharing safety and comfort and warmth with their people. The anthropologist in my past thinks this to be true. No paying room available in the Inn, but room was made within a home, just as I strive to make room within. But my heart is not in this truth either.

I had a mean pony.
Then I had a sweet small horse.
Then I was raised by a massive gelding named Peanuts; my mentor; my companion; my strength; my caretaker; my confidant.
Then we had a wagon-team of contrary garden-invading pony-mules.
Then finally, my dad had wool-of-many-colors sheep for those allergic to dyes.
Too small to be dignified with a name like "barn", we had what we called the "stable" that we had dragged down the road from my Grandfather's farm behind the car, then a larger one that my father built as I kept an eagle-eye out for fallen nails, far back in the southeast corner of the small pasture.

I heard the Nativity in our stable. The crunk-crunk of equine molars grinding grain from the trough, intermixed with wicker and whinnies and neighs and sporadicly nickered exclamations. Hooves stomped and plodded, and occasionally cracked against a stall. Two cats meowed. Sheep muttered and mumbled and nervously stirred. When it rained or stormed, I'd run to the stable to listen to the metal roof.

I smelled the Nativity in our stable. Dusty smell of old wheat-stubble straw, and the sweet pungent smell of alfalfa hay. The comforting smells of old leather in the tack-room mixed with horse-lather. The fecund earthy smell of horse-manure as I mucked the stall, or the fetid smell of millions of sheep-droppings. The rank lanolin smell of wet sheep. The smell of rain outside.

I saw the Nativity in our stable. The labor of spring lambing-time. Field-mice pinks hidden in a straw nest in the hayloft. A dead cat, and lambs that did not thrive. Life and death I learned in our stable.

Though I only sense it now, Christ was born in my warm and homey stable.

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