Friday, December 28, 2012

Contemplating Holy Birth

From the Advent Writing Circle
Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville, 12/20/12
Written by Merrill Farnsworth

Contemplating Holy Birth

I sat at the kitchen table one afternoon in late November talking to my
daughter, Evie, who was home from college for Thanksgiving break. We were
in the midst of epic side dish preparations the big feast. Evie has a deep,
poetic, saucy and compassionate nature, so I always enjoy meandering
through long conversations with her (lucky me - all three of my children
are philosophers, writers and musicians). As we sliced, diced, mixed,
mashed and stirred, I mentioned the Advent Circle I'd been invited to
facilitate and we began discussing the familiar story of Mary, Joseph and
the Holy Birth. I mentioned I was searching for new windows into old
stories. As our conversation rambled from virgins to angels and then to
cows in a manger, she said an amazing thing. She said, *What if a person
could give birth to the thing inside them that makes them feel sick or
ashamed? What if the dark things inside us could be pushed out into the
light?* *What if this is holy birth*?

At first it seemed scandalous to link the idea of shame to the story of
Holy Birth, but then it also seems scandalous to even halfway believe a
virgin was mysteriously impregnated with the son of God and that God
conceived and followed through with a plan for His perfect and beloved son
to be nailed to a cross. So I opened my mind, allowing my daughter’s idea
take root in my imagination and got lost in the bubbling up of words and

*What if I give birth to my darkness? *

*Perhaps my shadow, coming into light, will finally see Love’s true and
shining face.*

*What if I give birth to my hate?*

*Maybe my hate would be free to walk the winding labyrinth toward the sweet
Center of forgiveness.*

*What if I give birth to my despair?*

*I envision despair reaching out to take hope’s strong and reassuring hand.*

*What if I give birth to my fear?*

*Then fear could slowly open her eyes and see courage giving her an
encouraging wink.*

* *

I opened my eyes and smiled, looking across the kitchen table at my
daughter who had just gifted me with a new vision of Holy Birth while
deeply involved in her task of crowning the South Carolina Sweet Potato
Casserole with butter, brown sugar and pecans.

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