Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The first time I really understood Christmas

I post this every year. Not because it's the most profound thing ever, but because it's the truest thing I've figured out how to say about Christmas:

The first time I really understood the Nativity was in Yanoun, in the northern West Bank. The shepherds we were with–Mohammad and his cousin, also named Mohammad–showed us where they keep their sheep. It was a low, dark, cave. Noisy, crowded with animals, and smelling like–well–sheep shit. The mangers were rusty, with sheep pushing at each other to find space to eat. Not the sort of place you’d want to have a kid. I remember thinking: “If God can be born here, I guess God can be born anywhere.”

(To support the folks like the people of Yanoun, who are sorely pressed by military occupation and settlement expansion, check out the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program of the World Council of Churches, which maintains a nonviolent accompaniment and human rights observation presence in the village.)

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