“The Basics”


I have a collection of small nativity scenes that I have collected or friends have given me. The one pictured here I prize for its simplicity. The story of Jesus’ birth is very basic, a baby born to a family with no place to stay. We sometimes get caught up in decorations and elaborate depictions of His birth. This small sculpture speaks to a simpler truth.

We were in rural far Eastern Quebec two years ago where French was the common language. In Quebec City and Montreal it had been easy to get along in English. Here we were reliant on my school French and the kindness of anyone near by who spoke English.

We had stopped at a small outdoor farmers’ market that my rudimentary French had allowed us to find. I saw this small nativity set immediately. Made from driftwood, pieces of slate and beach stones, it was unlike any I had seen. The artist, a man about 75, spoke no English and his French accent was Quebecois, so I was hopeless at understanding him. Fortunately another vendor was able to learn a price for the piece and helped me navigate the sale.

No matter the language barrier, the artist and I met with our eyes. He knew that I knew the love that had been expressed in his creation. We shared a faith that was deeper than language. Thanks be to God!

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