By Sarah Damm
It is just an ordinary night. Although I am young and small, I am learning how to tend sheep. I’m even in charge of two small lambs.
The stars are shining brightly, and all is quiet and calm.
Suddenly, the sheep begin to “baa” in anticipation of something unknown.
The older boys check the perimeter, but there is no sign of an intruder. The elders encourage us to settle down, and we huddle close together.
I gaze again at the bright stars, and they begin to sparkle and dance. A soft glow grows brighter, and I realize I am not the only one in our group to notice. Even the sheep are captivated.
Then, an angel fills the sky. He approaches us, and we fall to our knees.
“Do not be afraid,“ the angel says. “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.”
The angel tells us that a child has been born in Bethlehem, and He has been born for us. He is the Lord.
Has the moment we’ve been waiting for finally arrived? Has our Messiah finally come?
The angel says we will find Him wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
That’s certainly not how I imagined the Messiah coming into the world. And why would God tell us, lowly shepherds, such astonishing news?
Then, more angels appear, and the entire sky fills with majesty. They start singing so beautifully. “Glory to God!” Still on my knees, I lift my arms and heart in praise.
When the angels disappear and the sky returns to normal, everyone is silent and still. Then, someone stands up and encourages us to go to Bethlehem.
Excited beyond measure, we hastily run. As we near Bethlehem, we follow the brightest star that is shining on some caves.
Upon entering one cave, I see a donkey, sheep, and chickens. They’re all doing their normal animal thing, but somehow they seem tamer than most animals. It’s like they’re on their best behavior.
Then, I notice that the other shepherds are kneeling. Some are bowing. I turn toward the direction they are facing, and right before my eyes is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. It is a family.
The mother makes eye contact with me, and smiles. She invites me closer.
“You’re beautiful,” I tell her.
She laughs and thanks me. She tells me that her name is Mary, and she introduces me to her husband Joseph. He is strong, quiet, and has the kindest eyes. Then, I look down at the Baby. He is sleeping so peacefully. Love radiates from Him, and I am pulled into His presence.
“Would you like to hold Him?” Mary asks.
I nod and sit down in the hay. Mary carefully places Him in my arms. I am mesmerized, and I have a hard time looking away.
“The angel said this is our Savior,” I tell Mary. I also tell her about the angels and how glorious they were. She and Joseph tell me about the times when angels visited them.
“He’s so small and precious. How will He save us?” I wonder.
“With God, all things are possible,” Mary assures me.
My group starts to leave, and I tell Mary that I never want to leave.
“God will give you the grace to relive this moment whenever you want, to feel the love of the Savior always,” Mary says.
I give Jesus back to Mary. Then, Mary gives me some straw tied together in a bow.
“He laid His head on this exact straw, and I want you to have it. I’m so glad you came,” Mary said.
“Thank you, Mary. I love Jesus. I love you and your family.”
“Hold us close to your heart. You will always be in ours.”
I hug Mary and Joseph. I kiss Jesus’ head.
As I leave the stable, I realize God’s love for me in a new way … in the face of the Baby Jesus.
About the author:
Sarah Damm is a Catholic wife and mother of six children, living in Minnesota. She spends her days running errands, helping with homework, and keeping up with laundry and the family schedule. Sarah loves her faith, coffee, and good books. You can find out more about her and her writing at sarahdamm.com.