The empty cradle...
And Mary said, My soul will magnify the Lord...
~ Luke 1:46
The series of events leading up to Christ laying within a cradle made from a place where animals gather to eat, as angels proclaim throughout the heavens that a child has been born where even "lowly shepherds" hear the announcement and wise men travel from far distances, there is the moment that Mary is told that she is "with child."
Today we retell the story, and rejoice with the mother who seems to realize her chosen path, and sees it as something that she was created to do, but there is another side to the Christmas story that many struggle to accept, and that is for those mothers and fathers who have lost a child, or have never been able to conceive.
It is hard for us to be sensitive, when we are busy singing Christmas carols to recognize the sadness that some people face each time that they hear of the immaculate conception and feel emptiness.
In today's world there are advances that detect the smallest of heartbeats, and photos of the miracle of cells growing and becoming the promise of a new generation. Pregnancy tests can be purchased at the checkout stand of many retail stores, and gender reveal parties have recently become a focused celebration where those in attendance find out whether there best friend or family member is going to give birth to a boy or a girl.
The hopelessness that some people face in knowing that their story is different, can seem to overshadow the lights of the Christmas tree and the joy that seems to be expected.
We seek to understand, but for many of us who have healthy children, our ability to walk with those who have never known, or have lost, a child, can keep us from being present for those who have.
I remember over the years moving away from celebrating "Mothers" on Mother's Day, to celebrating "Women," because we have realized the pain that some mother's have experienced, and even for the children who did not have mother's that cared for them.
While Christmas is entirely different, taking the time to recognize those who experience empty cradles can bring them closer to recognizing that this gift of a child is one that we can all receive as our own.
Today I lift up those who have never conceived. Those who have suffered the loss of a child, and those who are still trying to conceive.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2018
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Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.