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Thoughts on Christmas and barns

“Doodle Bug, Doodle Bug, your house is on fire!”
When we were young my brother taught me this little chant and how to use small twigs to coax doodle bugs from their little homes in our barn. Our old log barn holds lots of memories. Milking cows, riding horses, feeding sheep, stacking hay in the loft, playing hide and seek, jumping from the loft into the soft hay below, storing firewood for the winter.
But for me, the best memories of our barn were the times of birth. Of calves, kittens, lambs and puppies. I loved them all. I recall the first time I saw a new- born calf and how clean and fresh it was after its mama finished getting it ready for company. At the time I remember thinking that its spots were the whitest white I had ever seen.
And is there anything any softer than a lamb’s wool?
Now, I’m speaking personally here, but barns, stables, animals and such represent a peaceful continuity of life to me, a lot of hard work too, for sure,, but birth and peace just naturally go hand in hand.
I’m quite sure we all have our own thoughts about such things, but Christmas time and barns just go together.
I can’t be certain of how much the traditional Christmas story has influenced my thoughts; I hope a lot, because I find it especially promising that the Savior of the world came as a babe in a manger rather than what we hear talked of so much today: money, medical procedures, politicians, guns, etc. It seems that these distract us from what really saves rather than focus us on the simplicity of Christ, of innocence, expectancy of good and love.
But can this address a specific issue at this Christmas season, such as the much talked about “fiscal cliff”?
From his poem “Faith,” Patrick Overton writes:
“When you walk to the edge of all the light you have
and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown,
you must believe that one of two things will happen:
There will be something solid for you to stand upon,
or, you will be taught how to fly.” I like this because it reminds me of the first of Jesus’ beatitudes from his Sermon on the Mount.
From “The Message”: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.”
Do we question this? Of course we do, and we will as long as options are available to us. It’s when those options disappear that we finally step out in faith and are willing to honestly trust as Paul did when he said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
The new birth of Christ, the light that “shineth in darkness” is uniquely suited for each and every person and for all cliff-like scenarios. When all long-trusted assets and means lose their substance and we find ourselves without their familiar support, the saving grace of Christ comes to save and bless, to enlighten.
Fresh ideas and inspiration come to us, just as the much-loved carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem” says,
“Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.”
“People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. “Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” (“The Message”)

Chris Shoaf lives in Salisbury and is a Christian Science practitioner.

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