M. Jolaine Szymkowiak
Have you heard of the legend that the animals can talk on Christmas Eve? I would love to be there and hear what they say about the birth of the Babe and their perception of it all.
My first experience of the possibility of that, at least in the imagination, was upon coming across a copy of The Friendly Beasts, an English Twelfth Century Christmas Carol. Each of the animals: the donkey, cow, sheep, dove, all had something to tell in the way of service. The donkey carried the mother Mary, the cow gave her manger for a bed for the baby, the sheep gave a warm blanket, the dove cooed Him to sleep. "So, every beast, by some good spell, In the stable rude was glad to tell Of the gift he gave Immanuel, The gift he gave Immanuel." It was fun that year to experience with the children of a kindergarten Sunday school class, the thrill of each making a shoebox scene of the story, singing the song to the grownups at the Christmas program.
Some time later, I found a wonderful poem in the National Wildlife Federation's 1978 Holiday Album entitled The Witnesses by X.J. Kennedy. It is a story of what various animals witnessed of the birth of Christ and what it meant to them. It also sheds light on some of us as well as to what they witness of our devotion and adoration of that Special One.
The Humming bird
Stowaway in the fold
Of the Negro wiseman's cloak,
I came from Mozambique
Having endured fierce cold,
Wind, rain, and lashing sand -
Yet I have come thus far
To harbor in His hand,
And whir, His personal star.
More credulous than I, men hold me wise
Not for my hoot, but for my full-moon eyes.
They are my mask; I see through not a soul
But only mice to fill my beak and bowl.
Perched in the eaves, I let my dreams congeal.
Who are those kings? Why do the oxen kneel?
Munching a battered bucket by the creche
I feel absolved from human sins of flesh.
A horny lecher me ...
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