Barbara Emrys

The Nativity

The Nativity

As with all stories that arise from the wellspring of human imagination, the Nativity tells the story of us. We are storytellers, of course, but we are also the Only Story we know how to tell. From fairy tale to sacred scripture, from gossip to timeless mythology, we have always been describing ourselves. In the process, we manage both to distort truth and unravel life’s deepest mysteries – and our enthusiasm for the story lives on.

The mind narrates all the moments of human existence and imagines its relationship with all of life. It is always eager to know, always curious, but curiously reluctant to reflect on itself. It is comfortable focusing on the outside world – the dangers, the wonders and the iconic characters – without recognizing itself in the narrative.

The Nativity is a sacred story to the human dream, and has repeated itself in many forms throughout our history. Even the setting for this story describes the virtual landscape of us, the human mind. It is a landscape illuminated by promise and clouded by fear. It is populated with both tyrants and gentle messengers of truth. Within this setting, we have fashioned a refuge, a shelter from the dangers of outside prejudice and opinion. It is a place where doubt cannot exist and love survives, unquestioned. In such a refuge, the truth of us becomes incarnate.

The message of any story is told through symbols. This one is no different, but its imagery is beautifully simple. We have imagined ourselves in our authenticity, a place that could be called Bethlehem. We have secured for ourselves a safe haven under the heavens, surrounded by creatures who offer us warmth and the blessings of a dream without words. We call on the company of good guardians, shepherds to our errant thoughts. Our responsibility to love and sustain ourselves is indicated by the presence of an impeccable Mother and Father. And then there are the visitors, witnesses to our awakening. At our most aware, we transform knowledge to wisdom, allowing words to serve us and to bear gifts that shine, soothe and enlighten our world. It is not surprising that the gift bearers in this story are beautifully adorned but comport themselves with humility, ever conscious that they are under the supreme authority of truth.

The central character of this story is one newly born into a world of matter. His perception is untainted. His fate is to face knowledge and stand undefeated. His destiny is to be the message of life for humanity. His gift to this world is his presence. There are no villains in this scenario. There are only images of faith and integrity.

It has been a long time since you and I came into this world, but our divinity may still radiate through these physical bodies and through the stories we tell. We stand undefeated when we rise above the meaning of things to reflect the undeniable truth. We are the Christ in our pure presence. This story, like so many sacred stories, is testimony to our awareness. We can remind ourselves to tell such stories. We can remember to walk them, talk them and dream them in all our waking moments.

Merry Christmas, and everlasting love, to all the storytellers.

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