Kneeling at the Manger

A few years ago I attended an Advent Quiet Day retreat, taking time for
reflection and preparing. During the opening we were asked what Advent
practices had been meaningful to us in past years. One women shared that she
had invited the children of her church to walk the labyrinth and while they
walked imagine who they might be from the scene of Christ’s birth place... The
nativity, The crèche, the manger. Who would they choose to be as they
walked... Mary...Joseph...the Shepard’s...sheep...the kings...a camel...the
star...a donkey - an angel. As I walked that day I decided to take that same
invitation and began to think who I would be.

As the day went on my mind was drifting to the wonder of those little figures of
the precious scene that we have collected and take great care putting out each
year. I gather the familiar faces like old friends around the little baby
Jesus...and in those moments, I have a glimpse of their wonder. Yet I found
myself wondering who it is that is missing for the manger.

As the stories goes...they knew something special was happening, they were
asked not to be afraid when the angel called to them...they dared to travel
afar, following the bright star. Yes, they knew something special was unfolding
before them.

But who is missing?

I began to think...Maybe it was the Innkeeper. Did he know how many keepers
had turned this young couple away that day? Did he know that in his act of
kindness a miracle was at his door step and what it was that would occur in his
stable; since there was no room in the inns? Did he know that with a breath...
the Christ child would be born in this simple place?

Maybe it is the Innkeepers family. His wife who was busy caring for their
guests, did she wonder about the young mother in the busyness of her own day,
did she have the patience needed to care for one more. Were their children of
their own? Did they wonder of this babe born in their stable as they tended to
their animals nearby?

Were there women who attended the birth? The women who showed
compassion, who may have wiped Mary’s brow, who spoke tender words of
encouragement to this young women; this young mother-to-be. Maybe those
who witnessed the first breath, the one who swaddled this new born baby;
Mary’s child and placed him into her arms? Did they have time to pause before
they went off to be with the next family in need?

Maybe it was crowds of people who came to Bethlehem to be counted. Those
who passed by this lowly stable. How could they know? How could they know
that a miracle was occurring as they did their duty, gathering their families and
traveling to Bethlehem or just passing through on their way to their home
towns? How could they know that in a nearby stable, just steps away from their
path the Christ child was born.

As I wondered, I asked myself that in the fullness of this season what miracles
could I miss, what I could I pass by on “my way”? Will I be able to make time
to care for someone in need, wipe a brow, hold a child, offer a tender word,
share a moment, offer a safe space, a shoulder, a seat, an introduction?

How can it be that I can carry the light of love a bit more brightly this Advent

How can I keep my eyes open wide? Open to see the miracles that lie just
before me?

Can it be in a simple act of kindness, the unexpected chance opportunity to
touch a heart....that can make a difference?

Maybe it is through the eyes of compassion, for a mother in need of a kind and
gentle word, the father that is overwhelmed with what lies ahead, or watching for a child, that One child that needs US to hear His story; finding ourselves
kneeling at his manger.

In our time together you will be offered simple prompts of readings, expressive
arts and time in silence as we continue on our Advent journey. There will be
reflecting stations for collecting what might touch you to create or add to your
spiritual practices.

You may find it helpful to bring a journal, a book that inspires, outdoor wear
and boots for a walk in the woods or on the labyrinth, and cozy indoor wear


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Karen Kilty

Karen Kilty  is a spiritual director, retreat and yoga leader and faith formation educator. She has a great passion for nurturing the awareness of God’s love, presence and promise in peoples lives. As a graduate of Gateways to God, Spiritual ...