The second Sunday of Advent has rolled around so you know what that means. Another cast of nativity characters has come out to play with me.
This little wooden set is the first one my family owned, which means it survived our baby days.
Most of the animals I have gently pried from the mouths of my toddling babes. The whole ensemble has been arranged and rearranged in countless creative positions, including a shoulder-to-shoulder format that made the magi and shepherds look like a defensive football line holding firm against Mary and Joseph, as well as a single-line parade. Then there was the time the entire flock of sheep went missing for days, only to be found squirreled away upstairs in a yellow plastic purse.
Oh, if these little wooden creatures could talk, what stories they could tell.
But alas, the three-toned natural wood figures cannot speak but only stand and wait patiently where I have placed them. For practicality's sake, I've clustered everyone around the blessed stable, although we are weeks away from that part of the story. I tried to create a sense of motion by stretching the groups of kings and camel, shepherds and sheep out a bit, as if they were just arriving, but I must ask you to use a bit of imagination in interpreting the scene.
Happily, the dark, shadowy interior of the stable creates the perfect mood of subtlety and surprise. While Joseph and Mary, expectant parents, are clearly seen inside the black cave, the space between them is vaguely blank.
What has captured their attention, there in the darkness?
Is there something hiding in the shadows?
What do they see that we cannot?
That, my friends, is the beautiful mystery of the manger, and in due time, all will be revealed.
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Read more about my getting-ready-for-Christmas adventures: