I was walking around the icy-cold block with Rorie a little while ago.
Rorie the dog, not Rorie the Gilmore Girl.
And while I'm digressing, let me urge you friend,
if you are in the bleak midwestern midwinter, to get outside this evening--
walk the dog, walk the cat, walk your own fat . . . legs.
The sky is clear, Orion dazzles,
as in "Peaceful Easy Feeling," there are "a thousand stars all around,"
and a slightly more than half moon is glittering off the frozen snow.
I have learned two things only--do not reject a hug (unless you are absolutely certain that the hugger is a vampire; if not, it's worth the risk) and
do not neglect the world when she sparkles (screens that sparkle can be neglected without hurting yourself).
So, do yourself a favor. And thank me for it later.
As Rorie and I walked, and as she stopped every five steps or so
to sniff the sparkly world,
we came upon a midnight clear upon a standard outdoor plastic nativity set,
this one a rather stripped down model, eliding the animals so to speak
(a gross misrepresentation of the incarnation, I would argue),
and featuring just a lit-up Mary, lit-up Joseph, a very bright shiny star above,
and a little low something in the middle covered with snow.
Now Mary and Joseph, being, on the whole, rather vertical, or perpendicular, one might say,
had all but shed whatever snow fell upon them yesterday.
The wind and slightly warmer temps today helped, I'm sure.
But where one would expect to see Baby Jesus, lying on some sort of plastic manger,
lower to the ground and fixed at the exact spot where the inspirational gazes of the plastic virgin and plastic carpenter cross, all you could see was a pile of snow.
I hope I don't need to explain why, because this is already getting longer than I hoped.
So, I decided it was sort of my duty to go dust off the snow from the manger,
uncover the babe, the son of Mary, to ensure that
the millions who flock to my neighborhood in smalltown Indiana
could see plastic Baby Jesus in all his Christmas glory.
(For a moment I wondered what those Chinese factory workers
who make these babies by the hundreds of thousands
think about this symbol of "the true meaning of Christmas,"
but then I realized that I've already exceeded my limit
of three digressions).
Slowly, reverently, with little irony, I moved toward the holy family.
But Rorie blocked my path.
She has always been a weird little Westie,
though I've never known her to engage in prophetic utterance.
But somehow I knew just what she was trying to tell me:
" Do. Not. Uncover. Baby. Jesus.
This. Is. The. True. Meaning. Of. Christmas."
Dog. Punctuation. It. Kills. Me.
I knew better than to try to engage Rorie in some further Bakhtin-style dialogue.
She just looked at me with those eyes that said,
"What. Is. An. Epiphany. Worth. In. Terms. Of. Dogfood?"
But doggone-it (sorry), Rorie was right.
Getting covered up by some snow would be the least of Baby Jesus' worries
if he went ahead with his crazy plan to take on skin
and become a featherless biped with a soul.
Time was running out.
Two more days it would be too late;
midnight mass would be starting somewhere.
So, out of respect to the shining stars, the sparkling snow, the angel choirs,
and Rorie the oracular West Highland Terrier,
I hereby give MY LAST MINUTE ADVICE TO BABY JESUS.
"*Baby Jesus, if you go through with this, you might get covered up with snow. It's pretty some of the time. It's cold all of the time. And some people might think that this is just a story about a star, a pretty girl, a carpenter, and a pile of snow.
*Baby Jesus, if you go through with this, people will make plastic "statues" (well, I hate to use the same word that we use for those beautiful Greek things in the museums) of you, they will sell them in Wal-Mart, they will make them in China (which is officially atheistic!!), and they will put a lightbulb inside of you which could get uncomfortable. I'm telling you Jesus, this will be a piece of cheap you know what.
*Baby Jesus, if you go through with this. Your parents will teach you to eat those animals that are sharing their barn with you tonight. Just sayin'.
*Baby Jesus, if you go through with this, you will go through several difficult stages. The swaddling stage. The trying to figure out your mission stage while also trying to figure out girls and zits. The years of public ministry. Sound glorious? How does sleeping with fishermen sound? Sure, there will be some good times. But then some other stuff will happen. I don't have the heart to tell you about right now; it might mess up the Christmas Spirit and all.
*Baby Jesus, if you go through with this, a couple of those shepherds, or people just like them, just like the crowds that will follow and that will lap up your teaching like Rorie does leftover soup, will end up calling you names and worse. They will be chanting some pretty awful things. Believe me; you will wish you were just covered in snow.
*Baby Jesus, if you got through with this, you are going to be expected by a lot of people to lead a revolution to overthrow the corrupt political powers of your day. You need to be prepared to do that. In case you don't plan to do that, you need to be prepared to answer all the questions and complaints over the next bazillion years as to why you didn't. Those Romans could be nasty. So, the complaints will be . . . kind of understandable. Don't you think?
*Baby Jesus, if you go through with this, there's going to be a church. They will do some awesome things. Some lovely things. And they will do some other things too. Things that would shock you if I told you. As Rorie might say--"They. Will. Drag. Your. Name. In. The. Mud."
*Baby Jesus, if you go through with this, some people will think that God loves them enough to come here to live with us and the animals, to wear our animal skin, to show us how to be what we really could be. Some will even think you came to show us that we can start over after we've made a mess.
*Baby Jesus, if you go through with this, some people like me, who are still trying to figure you out after a lifetime, will write Ironic Advent Meditations pretending to give you advice.
*Baby Jesus, if you go through with this, no matter how much good you do and how much love you share . . . there will be NASCAR. And the Victoria's Secret Christmas Special.
*Baby Jesus, if you go through with this, people will think that following you pretty much involves "liking" you on facebook. They won't want to get covered up with snow, sleep with fishermen, get called ugly names, and some of those other things I'd rather not mention."
I don't know if this will do any good or not. But my conscience is clear. He can't say that Rorie. And. I. Didn't. Warn. Him.
(Note: Rorie misses you Jennifer Lynne Ricke and Lauren E. Ricke, but she is being helpful).