By Gary Miller
It’s Christmas time in the woods! I can tell by the full shopping malls, the congested traffic and the “Cha-Ching” of the cash registers. Well, maybe not. In fact I can’t tell any difference whatsoever. The birds are singing the same songs, the chipmunks are always going full speed, and the deer are taking the changes of weather in stride. Even the cows in the fields are chewing their cud with contentment. The thermometer may say it’s cold, but there is a certain warmth outside right now. You see it in the calmness and certainty of every living creature. There is no mad rush or last minute planning. There is only the satisfaction that every need will be supplied.
Hunting always brings me back to the simple things of life. That is especially true during this time of year. It seems the prominence and beauty of the outdoors is magnified when compared to the manufactured lights of Christmas. It seems the calmness and quietness of the woods is even more calm and more quite when compared to the unnatural noises of man.
Christmas is a wonderful holiday. It’s an opportunity to share the greatest story ever told. It’s an opportunity to be reminded of the greatest gift every given. But it also can be a time that worry and stress keep us from really enjoying the moment. It was no coincidence there were animals at the manger of the baby Jesus. I don’t know why they were there but I really think the meaning of their presence goes beyond the fact that it was their natural environment. It seems we make much of the manger and the swaddling clothes, but the narrative of the animals is viewed as a common but unnecessary side note to the more prominent extras.
But what if the animals where there for a greater purpose as well? What if we have overlooked their importance on that holy day? What if they too have a message concerning the Messiah? Maybe I’m forcing a spiritual truth when there is really none there. Or maybe I’m not. Perhaps their message is the same one I still get when I’m in the woods today -- a message of stress-free trust and calmness -- and an odd carol with these lines. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
Gary Miller can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.