Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The Heart's Hidden Manger


The days are getting quite short now as we approach St. Thomas's Day and the Winter Solstice. Advent's sense of expectancy and quiet contemplation is building to its peak. Of all the seasons of the Church Year, this is perhaps the one with the most interior sensibility and I delight in this.

My own Advent Rule has been focussed on going into that quiet place with Christ and resting in him--finding my peace in his presence. Given all the swirling news and events around us this has been extremely valuable.

I often think about Mary and Joseph in these final days before Christmas--about their journey to Bethlehem and how they might have felt. Were they anxious? Did they wonder whether God would provide a safe road on the way and a warm bed for them when they arrived? As I make my way through this second pandemic Advent I want to join them and ask them about how to travel unfamiliar roads in faith.

Like many of you, I find this season both very beautiful and yet also difficult. The beauty is found in happy traditions, memories, and opportunities to see and serve Christ in others. The difficulty can arise in a sudden flash as I wonder whether I can manage all the responsibilities, or when I lament the loss of people, times, or places in the past.

When I take the time to rest in Christ, to go to the manger and gaze upon Jesus, I find there the acceptance, peace, and hope I need. These hearty gifts are remarkably portable; they can go with me on my own Bethlehem-bound journeys of the heart and mind at this season and beyond.

I look forward to coming to the manger at Christmas--not only the one we set up in church or at home, but the manger Christ has prepared for me in the heart. That spiritual manger secretly feeds my soul in what I lack. It is a place of holy encounter and encouragement made precious by the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph her dear spouse, who placed the Christ-child in its hidden center, making the Infant King available to all who would turn aside from the road and rest there, day or night, always.


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