“There are only two ways to live; as if nothing is a miracle or everything is a miracle.” A Einstein.
Patricia’s and my favourite TV show is Call the Midwife a BBC period drama series, about a group of nurse midwives working in the East End of London in the late 1950s and early 1960s, (based on the book of the same title). The living conditions are often harsh and by our standards somewhat primitive and the medical services are basic but the quality of caring and the valuing of life in the midst of these hardships is inspiring and empowering. There is seldom an episode that we are not moved to tears by the indomitable human spirit and the miracle of birth.
The exception would be the Christmas episode where, instead of portraying life in its most real and earthy, there is a felt need, because it is Christmas, to layer everything with schmaltz and candy cane sweetness. At the one time of year when birthing and babies with all the blood and placenta and pain and near-deaths and deaths should hold centre stage, they default to a romanticized notion of how everything should be – just like in Bethlehem with all the straw neatly arranged in the manger and central air conditioning and stable housekeeping services and freshly laundered sheep and the cattle lowing and the poor babe awakes but no crying he makes. Not.
If only God were a hollywood producer…
We cling desperately to the conviction that life should be pain free and everything have a happy ending and all our misadventures end at a Howard Johnson’s. We have problems with real, especially when it comes to birth and death and all the messy points in between. Which is why we attempt to rescript everything Bethlehemish.
We don’t need a neat and tidy Nativity.
We need a true-to-life, feet-firmly-planted-in-cow-manure nativity that serves as the archetype and vision of hope for every refugee family, every politically oppressed minority, every unwed mother, every poor displaced homeless family outside in the cold.
Our reality-starved, hope-deprived post-truth world needs a Christmas narrative that proclaims, not in neon lights or in stereophonic choruses in golden-gilded cathedrals, that all of life is sacred, that the ordinary is extraordinary, and that every new birth means that God has not yet given up hope for this world.
We need a Christmas pageant that shouts from the roof top of a back-alley stable, amidst the huddle of bleating sheep and defecating cattle, that the greatest gift that we can give anyone, at the beginning or end of life is to stand alongside in their struggle to thrive or even survive, to hold their hand and encourage them to breathe and to anchor deep in your heart the truth that this too is a miracle.
Originally published on TangoTouch