Sunday, November 11, 2012

Choose Carefully

My mind wanders a lot. (it's wandering right now, making writing rather difficult)  I have a lot of trouble focusing during prayer.  Years of daily rosary have not improved my ability to stay on message.  I often resort to using the a booklet with pictures or the rosary picture cards purchased for homeschooling purposes.  I need something to help me focus.

Last night, while praying the Joyful Mysteries, unaided by visual prompts, I had a revelation.  Now I know why I find bizarro nativity scenes so disturbing; when I pray the third decade - the birth of our Lord - with my eyes closed, what most often comes to mind is a picture of the nativity scene of my childhood.  The sweet, plastic Sears nativity in the cardboard creche complete with starry Bethlehem sky pasted in the back and music box which played Silent Night.  Certainly this had nothing of the artfulness of the world's beautiful nativity scenes; none of the detail of the Fontanini nativity figures in the catalogs that come across my desk.  But it had a modest piety that is imprinted in my mind. 

Christmas is one big teachable moment! Making the choice of a nativity scene has a certain gravity.  I am all for children being able to play with the nativity figures. We have the Playmobil nativity, which I found to be suitable for the kids to play out the nativity story.  (I guess we've lived in Playmobil land long enough that those figures meld with my reality)  A child-friendly nativity for constructive play is a wonderful thing. [that is why my childhood nativity is packed away; the lambs' legs and angels' wings did not fare well after years of our dramatizations.]  I think there should be a certain degree of reality.  Yes, the story is being imprinted on a child's mind, but so are all the visuals.  So I think there is a pitfall in nativities of ducks, penguins, pickles and gnomes.  They are not what you want to come to mind fifty years from now when your child is at prayer.

Yes, I am a stickler.  There was the 'pig in the manger' battle of 1968, when my sister tried to put the wooden pig she had received as a gift in with the other animals.  I promptly evicted it.  It would return.  I would scream.  She would scream. My mother would sigh and massage her aching temples.

She sent me a picture a few years ago.  Under her Christmas tree was the exact same nativity scene that I a wooden pig. That battle will not end.

In my mind's eye.

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