• December 24, 2013

What is the crib of Jesus?

Natalie at St Louis Hospital

By Naomi Beauclair, vol­un­teer in Thailand

When we go to the long term, infir­mary floors at St. Louis Hospital, I see before me very sick and old men and women lying in hos­pital beds; I see before me their death beds and Jesus lying there, as if he were in the stable with Mary and Joseph. Only through the eyes of Mary’s heart can I see those poor cribs. There are many men and women on the 4th and 5th floors who lie in bed all day and night, sleeping or staring at nothing in the silence of lowing, mur­muring oxygen machines, with the slow and simple clank of sil­ver­ware, and the sacred touch of a friend’s hand. These people exist day and night in cold poverty exposed to humanity’s fierce punches. They are defense­less, vul­ner­able, weak. Many cannot speak. Visits to these elderly people has revealed to me the beauty and neces­sity of a gentle pres­ence.

My Thai teacher asked me why we go to see the old people at the hos­pital, barging into a room without the person/people’s given con­sent, and speaking about...nothing. It took me a moment to figure out how to explain what hap­pens at St. Louis Hospital— the beauty that is revealed and the pres­ence that is given. I wanted to tell her this: Going with Our Lady who senses invi­ta­tions to enter rooms, and who is atten­tive to the poor one’s needs, each visit is dif­ferent. Aware of the poor one’s great defense­less­ness, we approach each crib with humility, with the loving eyes of a new mother, in the love of her spouse the Holy Spirit. Only then can we approach each manger and speak about nothing or not speak at all. Only then can we meekly enter the stable of Love—of death, of life—with unut­tered con­sent, and gently touch Jesus in those who are lonely, those who have no one.

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