Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Away in a Manger

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed
The little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head
The stars in the bright sky look down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes
I love thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my side until morning is nigh

You know, I really envy Mary. She must have felt somewhat like she had it made. I mean, it Martin Luther got it right and the human baby Jesus didn't awaken and cry at the commotion of the animals in the stable, she truly was most blessed among women!

I write this after letting my baby girl finally cry herself to sleep. I struggle sometimes with knowing whether or not I do the right thing with my children. I suppose that we all do. I know that my last baby (he's 7-1/2 now) was spoiled darn near rotten and I battle undoing that damage each day. But still, nurturing a child isn't wrong. It just can't be. Mind you, I don't hold her all the time. She is not delayed in her development because of being coddled (quite the opposite, her early milestones are the stuff of frantic prayers because at 7 months she's almost walking!). But when she has trouble going to sleep at night, and she cries and cries and cries, it breaks my heart. I want so badly to pick her up and just rock her until she goes to sleep, but I fear that by doing that I will create a situation where she simply won't sleep without me holding her.

(Who am I kidding, I think I have already created this situation!)

I wonder, if the belief of Biblical scholars is correct that Mary was only 14-16 years old when Gabriel visited her, how did she handle motherhood? It was her first baby. Did she know when to let him cry, and when to let him cry himself to sleep? Or, is Martin Luther correct that Jesus in his earthly baby form simply didn't cry?

At sixteen, Mary must have been something for God to choose her to mother and carry his child. I think my children are something special, but they are so common next to baby Jesus, the only begotten son. And yet, I know that Mary was just like me.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.--Luke 2:19 NIV

Being a mother has brought me much closer to understanding how Mary might have felt. And it has made the death of Jesus Christ even dearer to my heart as well. I don't know if Mary truly understood that her baby boy was going to be born for the purpose of becoming the paschal lamb. But I know that as I watch my children, as I've held these babies in my arms, I've tried to imagine what it would be like to raise them with that kind of knowledge. And the closest I could get was the simple knowledge that their bodies are mortal. We are finite. Perhaps if Mary knew that He was going to die such a brutal death she also knew that it could not hold him.

And there is such joy in knowing that although my children are mortal, their human lives are finite, they have the opportunity to accept Christ into their hearts and lives and have eternal life spiritually, if not physically.

Father, as a mother, I can't imagine what Mary may have felt watching Jesus be led to the hilltop where he was crucified. I wonder if, in that moment, she had flashbacks of his glorious entry into the world--praised by angels, announced by a spectacular star, sought by foreign kings, and feared by the rulers of nations and religion. Part of me wonders if by understanding Mary and her position as a mother, I can know you better. In this season of celebrations, of commercialism and greed, help me keep my life, my heart, and my eyes centered on you and on your gift for all humanity. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

1 comment:

Christina said...

Glad to see you are back. I totally understand how you feel, but sometimes you have to let them cry or else it takes years to establish good sleeping habits. It's probably much harder on you then her. I pray that she quickly learns to get herself to sleep and that it all goes well for you.