Sunday Short: The Nativity that Made My Monday

November 21, 2016

This is the first in a series of short Sunday posts where I share my spiritual thoughts/impressions for the week. Most will be fairly casual, not the most eloquent or organized, but meaningful to me. Leave yours in the comments below! Sharing is caring.

It was the Mondayest of all Mondays, the kind that feels like it would steal your boyfriend, punch you in the face, and unapologetically eat the last slice of chocolate cake you were saving in the fridge just because. Work was a pile of unending problems, I had escalated into full-blown introvert mode by lunchtime (which is the social equivalent of being hangry, but instead of being mad about food, you’re mad about ever having to see or talk to another human again), and I got stuck at Macey’s with a stack of FHE snacks behind a woman straight off the set of Extreme Couponing who spent five to ten minutes arguing with the cashier about the price of a loaf of bread. When I finally got back into my car, it was to be greeted with several messages about more problems at work. I can’t say I didn’t sit in my car and mentally bang my head against a wall for a few moments in frustration. For the past few weeks, this has been my life, a bundle of stress and dissatisfaction with where I’m at. It all came to a head that Monday and left me tired and angry.

As I started my car and drove home, I passed a bustling Tai Pan Trading and an Italian restaurant my one and only Tinder date had taken me to. Then, in a flash, I remembered a little fair trade shop I’d visited a few weeks prior with a friend and how the shop girl had told us to come back in November when their global nativities would be in. It was right around the corner and I decided to stop and go in, because on the Mondayest of Mondays, a girl’s gotta have a break.

I walked through the door and the bells hanging from the frame clamored together. The smell of candles and spices hit me like a warm wave, and I walked slowly across the wooden floor, drinking in the bags and jewelry made by many different artisans. Then I smiled. There, on a display in the middle of the store, were nativities from every corner of the world. There was a nativity from Peru that consisted of three clay miniatures sitting in a small, cup-shaped leaf. There was a nativity with a sombrero-wearing Joseph, a nativity in a small stone stable, an egg-shaped nativity, a narrow, marble nativity…they were all so different and so beautiful and I was so obsessed, because I love nativities more than most things.

Then a certain nativity caught my eye. It was tucked in the back corner of a small shelf and contained three shepherds, three kings, three rudimentary animals, an angel, Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus. The artists were from Kenya. Each piece of this nativity appeared to be made from leaves (I’d later learn they were plantain leaves from the cashier) and wood. It was not the fanciest nativity. In comparison to some of the others, it was rather homely. There was no paint, no marble, and no stone. But the pieces were crafted with such detail and care that it left me a little breathless. I don’t know who these artisans are, but in their nativity, I see love for the Savior. I bought it immediately, and as I left the shop, I felt peace for the first time that day. Somewhere on the other side of the world, there is someone who loves the Savior like I do, and their love has found its way to my heart. That little nativity now sits in my apartment and I smile every time I see it.

What we forget about the Savior is that His birth was a world event — every human being on every part of this earth has redemption and grace weaved through their creation story because He was born. He is an intimate and important part of their life, whether they be in the United States, in Russia, in Europe, South America, or a little country in Africa. We don’t all have to be in the same place to gather around Him, either. We gather around Him when we choose to be like Him and open ourselves to His love. He, in turn, individually gathers us, and that is cause for the greatest hope. He is the light of the world, all of it, every mountain, valley, city and village in it. He is as familiar with you as He is with the Heavens, and His love can be seen and felt in everything. He is joy and He is hope in a world filled with Mondays. Celebrate His birth. Celebrate Him. It makes all the difference.

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