I am staying at the guesthouse at St. John the Evangelist in Cambridge, Massachusetts for the holidays, because I love to sit with the monks as they sing. They have the most amazing, soul-shuddering harmonies.
Anyway, this morning at prayer service I sat right in front
of a beautiful manger display from Jerusalem. My eyes kept
returning to small statues of the animals depicted in this particular
scene: the cow, the ox, the donkey, sheep, goats and even some camels. I
could picture dogs and cats running around happily in the background,
off-camera, so to speak. And it really warmed my heart to know that
these sweet and gentle creatures were present at the birth of the
Christ. They stood witness before and therefore were part of this sacred
family. That's no small thing!
I know there is debate as to
whether animals were actually present at this sacred birth, but
regardless: we 21st-century humans should try to remember that these
animals are all noble and sacred beings and deserve to be treated with
respect, love, and reverence. As do we all. Their (and our) ancestors
knelt at the cradle of the Christ. May it be so!