Posted by: sailingspirit | December 23, 2011

It’s a Very Mary Christmas This Year

c. 1437-1446

At this time of year many re-tell the story of Mary and the Christmas birth, but very few live it.  I decided to share my experience and what I learned from it so more people can understand what she really went through, and hopefully connect with the story in a new and more personal way that changes them somehow, that this Christmas won’t be like every other year.

Travelled a long distance,
Pregnant with a Promise,
Knowing my time to deliver drew near.
Eager to share the good news
              –but those expected to receive it
Received me not; of little help.

I continued on.

A detour for a Covenant sign
Delighted to have made it mid-way in good time
I stopped at a house of worship
To pay honor to the One who sent me.
Shooed away by the very ones posted to protect
(the Fellowship Hall, apparently, not the traveler),
Crouched, uncomfortable, cold, feeling too vulnerable
to the lurkers to sleep,
Yet I could not go until I thanked
the One who does love me.
I gave gifts of what I had
to Him and those around me
but then there was no food left for me.
I snacked stale in the parking lot.
Looking for a place to rest
and recharge, I recharged others with hope
–but being a blessing was thought a bother;
Me and the 4-cylinder “donkey” go back to the road.

Didn’t know where I would stay, had no reservation
Arriving late in the night, suspicion my reception.
The righteous were not receiving
(of me, anyway, just my labor)
their Hospitality not scooting over, sharing, or Making Room.
Moreover they cannot see my pregnancy
Despite the evidence;
Assuming I’m lying they want another’s
word not the Word’s Himself.
My only offer is taking shelter
at the outskirts of town,
where few would dare to go.
Dirty, smelly, broken down, noisy
–was everybody born in a barn?!
Curled up in the dark, nervous
I don’t know how this is going to go
              –I’ve never done this before
No experienced midwife coaching me through
(My betrothed is in the desert, not with me).
Seems like the worst possible timing,
most undesirable circumstances:
No money, no resources, no power.
Only a few who don’t even know me
bother to journey to visit,
To leave the comfort of their own situation
and get into mine,
to sit in the dark with me
and congratulate me on what they recognize
as a great beginning.


It wasn’t the religious who helped me
out of their righteousness and blessed abundance,
Nor the affluent among the family, community, powerful
whose inconvenience would have been minimal,
But the lowest class, the untouchables, the least respected of us all:
Open arms in worn clothes, warm smiles of broken teeth,
They understood my story because they had lived it, too.
And knowing how they would have liked to have been treated
they shared what little they had
Showering me with an abundance that met no standard
but my needs.
They gave of their possessions, their talents, their time
They brought me hot food and set
a wobbly TV tray for me whenever I wished to join them
in their tiny rooms.
They stayed up late talking with me
about important things, not fluff
and promised to stand on-side with me
if things ever got rough.


I’ve oft heard church-y people say
the rough-edged lessen God’s reputation,
but what God is it that they know
to cause that lamentation?
These same tearfully moan their ills
and pat each other’s hands,
weekly waiting for God to move
but never taking up their stand.
The felons, drunkards, unemployed,
the addicts I am with,
no cars, no driver’s licenses, no money to give gifts
have their own list of ills to moan but none the less I hear
them laughing and carousing (admittedly much beer).
No less than the half of them know their scripture too,
so what exactly makes you think they’re any less than you?
They SUCCEED at living out the Body life of Christ,
holding loosely to their goods but tightly other’s lives.
They were the hands and feet of God who fed this Sheep in need
and are my fence of flesh in willingness to bleed.
They are the living stones of Church
He promised He would build,
They deserve more than your leftovers!
in His eyes they are gilt.


I am now glad God brought me here
              (don’t know how long to stay)
I understand Him all the more
because of this delay.
“These are my mother and my brothers,”
said Jesus as do I.
They look at life differently and they recognize
that future matters so much more;
Like God, they look ahead.
They know about starting over,
the potential that’s within,
and overcoming the past
others try to keep you in.

They understand repentance (making a change)
and they understand Grace.

If I should die before I’ve birthed,
Before His Kingdom comes,
These are the criminals I want at my side
Because they recognize who I am
              –and who I’ve yet to be.
I’ve spent each holiday thus far
since coming here, alone
But should anyone bother to ask where I’m from
I’ll say, “I think I’m home.”

Jesus was born poor and died poor not so that He’d be able to empathize with us but sympathize with us; God knew that the privileged pity the poor at best and in ministry would leave them touched but unchanged, in rapture would leave them behind.  In spiritual warfare as well as any other, you never leave one of your own behind.

Had Mary birthed in the City
like everybody else,
in the expected place
and with expected help,
no one would have taken note
and no one would have knelt.
You hear the story now because
of what Mary endured,
the news a few farmhands spread wide
and strangers’ gifts at her side.
So it’s not odd to sit and wonder
who might come from over yonder,
whether my story will go far
when God decides to light my star
Some cold, silent night.

Like Mary, I don’t have to understand
or see the Master’s entire Plan
I just have to play my part
and keep His promise in my heart
Another cold, silent night….



Thank You, God, for being my “choregeo” (2 Cor. 9:10), my Choreographer, and for saving us in most unexpected ways (K. Idleman, Christmas 2010).

My prayer for every reader this Christmas is the rich gift of experiencing poverty.  You won’t find Jesus under the tree in someone’s living room, but you will find Him under a tree at the side of the road.



  1. wonderful post, keep going. Merry Christmas to you, God Bless

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