Last Look at the Manger

It wasn’t very hard for me to say goodbye to Christmas and pack up the decorations… until it came to the manger.

empty manger

My heart lingered here, reluctant to carry it to the basement.  I realized that this was probably my last Christmas to lay my own baby in the manger for our annual re-enactment of the nativity.  The realization made my heart ache.

baby wrapped in white blanket

In an effort to appreciate the wonder of this stage in life while it is still mine, I dressed my infant in white and carefully laid her in our own little manger for some photos.

baby in white blanket

Gratefully, I was able to capture it in a way I feel pleased with.  I love the way the light was shining on her face.  It reminds me how much light is in her, how much light she has brought into my heart and into our family.

The words of a favorite song kept running through my mind, “dressed in white, filled with light, what wonder did I see?”

The next lyrics say, “What I feel, what I know, leads my heart to sing, ‘I will praise thy name, praise thy name from day to day.”  As my own heart was weeping a little at the idea of moving past this moment, it hit me how very blessed I am, to have experienced this wonder EIGHT times!  I realized that instead of weeping, I should joyfully praise my Heavenly Father for sharing this with me.

In the above picture, she is playing with her oldest brother.  How marvelous it is to watch your older children bask in the wonder of a baby.  In the photo below, I love the bokeh of the white lights on the tree behind her.

baby smiling in front of Christmas tree

Again, I LOVE the light.  The white is so white, her smile so pure, her eyes so clear.

Years ago I read a line in one of Sara Teasdale’s poems, which says “children’s faces looking up, holding wonder like a cup.”  For many years now I have wanted to capture the feeling of that line in a photograph of one of my children.  In this setting, I feel like I did, as my baby gazed up in wonder at all the world around her.

And because I’ve never been in love with a baby’s feet like I have with these little ones, I took a few of her toes for good measure.

baby feet

baby feet

Sigh.  How glad I am that I listened to my mother’s heart that morning, and captured a moment I don’t ever want to forget.   It made me think a little of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  I wonder how she felt when they left the stable, if her feelings were bittersweet.  I’ve never thought of it before.  We spend a month at Christmas celebrating the manger, yet it was a dirty place where animals lived.  Surely she was a little bit relieved to put it behind her, and somewhat overwhelmed by the many physical needs that both she and the baby had.  Yet if she realized that prophecy had been fulfilled in that dirty place, then part of her must have paused to mark the moment, to hold it in her heart for future reference.  I wonder how many mothers throughout history have stood on the threshold of time, anxious to move on but reluctant to leave.  I wonder what Mary thought as they left the stable.  I wonder if any of her feelings paralleled my own.

baby in manger

A stable moment.  My grateful heart sings.


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