Tuesday, January 3, 2012
This is one of several Nativity scenes that I have. A friend who is from Munich recommended that, while I was there, I visit the Bavarian National Museum to see their collection of creches. There are about sixty, various styles and sizes, some with more than 100 figures. Most were collected by the same man who donated them to the museum. My time looking at them became a kind of prayerful reflection.
It got me thinking about how much I loved the Nativity figures that my family had when I was a little child. My parents let me start playing with them before Christmas. I would move them around, pretending that Mary and Joseph were travelling to Bethlehem, that the shepherds were out on a hillside, and that the Magi were travelling from the East. As I wandered among those in the museum, I wondered whether playing with the figures as a child was one of the ways that God drew me to religion.
I have been collecting Nativity scenes through the years. Before I went to the museum I had been thinking about giving them away, but after reflecting about how important they were to me in my growing, I decided to keep them. One set has about 40 figures that were given to me by friends and family over the years. I have a number of just Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, like the colorful set in the picture. I bought two hand carved wooden Holy Families while I was in Germany to give as gifts, but they are still on display in my room where I do my morning prayers.