Saturday, December 26, 2009

Another holiday lesson....

‘Twas the day after Christmas, and I did head once again to the airport. It’s a beautiful morning in Seattle, and I had the treat of driving to SeaTac watching the sun rise in an unseasonably clear sky with Mt Rainier in stark relief. I’m currently in the safari themed bar in Terminal A, where the waiter carded me for a coffee (but I do love me a zebra-print chair early in the morning). Other than that, so far this airport visit has been relatively uneventful.

My visit home was nice, full of family and enjoying the peace and quiet of the island. In holding with tradition, we made the journey to the “mainland” to go to our church’s Christmas Eve service. As always, it was worth the drive as it was a fulfilling blend of seasonal joy and thoughtful insight on the meaning of thankfulness and family. Besides the grand finale of singing ‘silent night’ by candlelight, the highlight of the evening for me was the (brief) children’s reenactment of the story of the nativity. Mary and Joseph were there, and as usual were visited by the wisemen, and the stars were bright and so on. However, this year the sheppards (somewhat successfully) managed to heard their flock of diminutive sheep in cotton-ball-covered hats…. And of course… a “secret cow” and one very excited elephant.

Allow me to explain. Prior to the service, the mother in charge of making sheep costumes confessed that (as adorable as the sheep costumes were) one of her children had informed her on no uncertain terms that he was going to be an elephant, and another really wanted to be a cow. Luckily for those making the costumes, the cow was convinced that a sheep hat with black ears could easily be a cow, and so she didn’t tell anyone otherwise and for the night blended in with the flock as a “secret cow.” The elephant, however, stood out a bit. This might have been because of the exuberant twirling dance he graced the crowd with….or it might have been the trunk.

Now, rather than detracting from the peaceful message of the nativity, I rather though the diversity in species was refreshing, not to mention very cute. I could go on to point out that Bethlehem wasn’t all too far from Africa, though it’s unlikely that a stray elephant would really have made its way that far North. Though, as the ancient story tells us, miracles do happen. Rather though, I think the presence of the elephant is a lesson that sometimes its okay to decide that the outfit you’re given just doesn’t fit. The rest of the sheep were happy to share their visit to the new baby with the elephant and cow, and the audience enjoyed the antics. Whether you’re content to be a secret cow, or are moved to go all out and be a dancing elephant amongst sheep, we’re all better for it. Somehow it makes me heartened to know that out there amongst the flocks of children growing up in our sometimes overbearing society, not all are content to be sheep.

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