Often as we see manger scenes or read of the birth of Christ in Luke chapter 2 we have a tendency to not think beyond the images we see. We see images and we think yes, we are celebrating the birth of a very special baby, but what do you think it was really like that night he was born? I often like to put myself in the shoes of another to gain a better understanding of their feelings, emotions, and situations. I was not there, I do not know but what my Bible states, I know that Mary was just a person, a young lady, with human feelings, emotions, and sensations. But, if we were to see this scene through her eyes, what might it have been like?
There is a soft rustling as some of the animals reposition themselves, maybe even the occasional snort or whinney of pack animals. The smell in the air is familiar, a natural musky smell intermingled with feed, dust, and earth. Not what she had hoped for, not what she had planned for, not what she had expected.
She had just had to tell her family some months back that she was with child. To say they were shocked, likely would have been an understatement. She was to wed, but she was young and was not to have been in this predicament. She may have felt that the world itself was against her, her tale was quite extraordinary…who would’ve believed it? But there she was. He was with her, beside her, his doubt was taken away by his own dream visitor.
The pains had been coming off and on throughout the day now. Was this normal? Midwives familiar to her and her family would have been far away back home…but here she was. Could she do this? She may have been granted peace, but also any woman who has ever given birth to a child knows…it is not serene, it is not easy. She begins to block out some of the distractions now as the time is nearing closer and closer. The intensity is more and more pronounced. How she must long for the comfort of the familiar…her home, her people, anything. But here she is. Would she cry out? Would she feel embarrassed to be seen in this light by the fiancé she was with, one who had not even seen her disrobed? He would see her at her most vulnerable if not during, then shortly after the birth. She may begin to pace, or lie in the hay curled up against the pain, she may rock herself to help with the waves of pain. But, like women for centuries, she has to do this, the pain will not go away until the birth. No turning back once the process has begun. Oh, to just have a soft mat, a familiar friend, a known midwife.
Hay would have likely lined the place where she was. She may have been crouching, kneeling, laying down. Hay is scratchy, its ends poke and irritate the skin. The smell of the stable may be comforting or it may be overwhelming…often sensations become much more pronounced during these final stages. She can feel the end nearing now, it is an overwhelming pain, she blocks everything else out, she may be praying now, the sensation of intensity and heat may be consuming her entire being. It is so very hard, she wants this part to be over now, just for the pain to cease. She may feel some embarrassment, does anyone in this strange land know she is birthing out here? What if something goes wrong. What if she is not capable, what if she wasn’t the right one to choose for this miraculous task?
Then the time comes, the severity of the end moments may not last too long. She has sweat on her brow, she is exhausted, but…
Then she sees him, she lays eyes on him for the first time. He is wiped clean, he looks healthy, robust even, and it is over. She weeps tears of happiness, tears of exhaustion, tears of relief. Her emotions may overwhelm her. He is beautiful, magnificent. She is sure that there has never been a babe as beautiful as he. Every mother has this moment, but hers may have been even more pronounced. She did it. He is here. She may try to cover herself as she cradles the new babe, what to wrap him in? She wishes she had the finest silks or linens. She wishes for so many things for him. But, she has only a stable at her discretion, one with a manger that the animals use to forage for their hay. She will spread the hay out as best she can and line the manger with as many garments as possible to make a soft place for the babe. She will likely need to make herself presentable again, for him, he has stood by her through all of this. She did it, he is here. After a number of hours she would still be on the natural high that comes with birth, people would learn that she had given birth in the stable, probably not a common occurrence, but then again, there was no other place for her to go, and there was nothing common about this babe either.
The Bible does not tell us what conversations took place between Mary and Joseph after this miraculous birth. The Bible does not tell us what feelings Mary had, but I know she was a human being, and a woman. I know she had emotions and feelings just like you and I. I just think that sometimes we don’t stop to think deeper than what we see. Let us be reminded of the amazing gift that was given to our world the night that Jesus was born. Let us remember that it is so much more than a manger scene lit up in someone’s yard. These were real living people, this was an event that really did happen, this was a birth like never before in history.