It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Chapter 12, Page 21, Book 11
Did you know that there is a wonderful belief that the animals will talk on the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve. You must be quiet and listen with your heart and soul and you must have patience.
The robin and cardinal have long been associated with Christmas. This could be tied to folklore stories about the robin that stayed near the flames of the fire made to keep the Baby Jesus warm by beating its wings all night so that the fire might burn brightly. So devoted was the bird to the cause that it singed her breast red by being so close to the flames.
One legend speaks of a rooster who from the stable rooftop declared, in Latin no less, Christus natus est, or, Christ is born. Supposedly a raven heard this and then asked, again in Latin,When? The rook replied This night! The ox asked Where? The sheep chimed in Bethlehem! and the ass cried out Let’s go! This story is especially beloved in some cultures because the Latin phrasing for each statement mimics the sound each animal naturally makes.
European folklore teaches that the animals respond as humans on the night of Jesus’ birth. The oxen kneel down in their stables each Christmas in commemoration of the event. Many are said to speak only on Christmas Eve. It is said that humans do not want to actually hear what the animals are saying because, even though they have the gift of speech just one day a year, they usually don’t have many kind things to say about their human masters. For others, even the beehives participate in the celebration of Christmas through their buzzing carols of praise and adoration for the Christ Child.
Each of these tales began as a means of teaching the importance of the birth of Jesus Christ. It must be remembered that for centuries the only access to the story of the Nativity was through church. People did not own copies of the scriptures and, if they did, they likely did not have the ability to read them. The story of Christmas then was passed from person to person, generation to generation. It is easy to see how stories could become more fantastic in time.
Even though this may be a very busy week, with final Christmas preparations, or perhaps travel to visit family, it can be a contemplative week if we focus our desires each day. No matter what our days hold, we can take a few minutes to consciously ask for the grace to approach Christmas with faith and with a heart open to the graces offered us.