It was cold and cloudy with little moon and no stars as I walked home late in the evening. The wind lofted the cow barn smell pungently into the air. Seeing the barn reminded me of choir earlier in the day when sang a setting of Richard Crawshaw’s poem In the Holy Nativity of our Lord.
In the Crawshaw poem the shepherds sing of this blest night: Gloomy night embrac’d the place Where the Noble Infant Lay; The Babe look’d up and show’d his face, in spite of darkness, it was day. It was thy day, Sweet! And did rise Not from the east, but from thine eyes. Great little one, whose all-embracing birth Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heav’n to earth.
With the fresh smell of the stable and the shepherd’s song running through my mind, I imagine what it was like for Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds that night. I wonder how the shepherds felt seeing the Christ-child. I wonder how I would have felt being a shepherd. Would I have recognized His light, would I have been excited, or afraid?
As I continued home, I cast prayers into the night. Prayers of things I don’t understand and questions longing for answers. I hope for healing in broken relationships, and courage to make bold choices when I feel afraid. I ask Jesus what to do with my many wants and desires. And then my heart smiles remembering how bright and sweet Your face is. I smile knowing that as sure as anything, Jesus will come again this season. And in His coming, His all-embracing birth will bring sweet light into any place we will welcome it.