While driving home this morning from seeing a friend, I noticed several nativity scenes on front lawns as preparation for the upcoming Christmas holiday. There were rustic versions, plastic versions, versions with lights, and even an inflatable nativity. (I must apologize to the planet Earth for the U.S. starting that whole horrible inflatable craze. That was a major faux pas on our part.) The sudden, numerous appearances of the blessed moment reminded me of the demise of one of our own nativity scenes.
I’d visited Bogota, Colombia, for the first time with my parents in 2005. We had a lovely time, visiting everything from a church and stations of the cross contained within a salt mine at Zipaquirá to riding horses with friends at Villa de Leyva to the trekking out to the new Cuarto de Milla Projecto (Quarter Horse Project) just outside Bogota. We had a grand time and made some lovely friends that we keep in touch with to this day.
Side note: I highly recommend that you all go to Colombia. I’m lucky in that I’ve seen a lot of places in the world, but Colombia is beautiful and friendly and so much fun. My mother has been so often that I think she has lost count, my parents returned a couple of years ago to spend a happy week with some Colombian friends in Cartagena, and even I was able to make a return trip in 2007. If I could somehow synthesize more vacation time, I’d be there much more often.
Anyways, among the many, many, MANY things I brought back with me was a small nativity scene carved from tagua nut, a type of nut from species of palm tree. It was lovely, including not only Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus, but the wise men, some animals, and even a creche. I loved it, and that year at Christmas, I placed it on one of the side tables in the living room with the hopes of sharing it with family and friends alike.
I returned home from work one day, greeting both dogs at the door. As I set my keys in the usual I-won’t-lose-them-here spot, I couldn’t help but notice that one of the wise men was by the peace lily, Joseph was by the leg of the coffee table, and the rest of the party was nowhere to be found. I set my computer down, booted Muddy and Reba to the backyard, and commenced the search for the lost nativity members. After spending thirty minutes on a detailed search of the area, I found everyone except Jesus. I knew that there could be only one explanation for the missing Christ child: Muddy. Muddy ATE the baby Jesus. Muddy had a long and glorious history of inappropriate behavior and even more inappropriate eating habits, but this time she really took the cake. Or the Jesus.
I laughed, shook my head, and brought the dogs back indoors. After all, Muddy had already eaten sin, so perhaps consuming–literally–the body of Christ was her only option for salvation. I could only hope that Muddy had enjoyed her tagua communion.