What We Embrace

“It is said that when St. Francis staged in his own simple fashion a Nativity Play of Bethlehem, with kings and angels in the stiff and gay medieval garments and the golden wigs that stood for haloes, a miracle was wrought full of the Franciscan glory. The Holy Child was a wooden doll or bambino, and it was said that he embraced it and that the image came to life in his arms.”

– G.K. Chesterton (“The Testament of St. Francis,” St. Francis of Assisi, 1924; quoted in daily Advent reflections from the Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton)

In a world that can always use a miracle, here’s one for Christians and equally for others:

What we embrace
comes alive in our arms
and in the world.

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8 Responses to What We Embrace

  1. Judith Umbach says:

    Beautiful sentiment. Thanks for encapsulating into something I will remember.

  2. Tom Watson says:

    I was watching this morning a worship service from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Kitchener. The minister mentioned the nativity scenes that many people have in their homes: the scenes are always tranquil, even the camel smiling. In contrast, this week he saw a nativity scene in which the baby Jesus lies in a pile of rubble in Gaza. That nativity scene is much closer to reality—both when Jesus was born and now—but I wonder which scene we tend to embrace?

  3. I was with a friend yesterday who has tried to embrace a severely ADHD grandson whose parents are terribly ill addicts (one in jail dying of throat cancer) and who has become homeless and a danger to himself and to others. For the past two weeks, I have been replaying the all-too-familiar scenes with police who are trying to help, hospitals that turn patients out into the freezing streets after emergency visits, and doctors who do not understand the causes of ADHD or any other mental illness. I had this young man for three days and began to see his responses to Focused Listening before he got into so much trouble with a neighbour that I had to lock the door behind him and call the police about the supposed whereabouts of $5000 in cocaine purchased in Ottawa the night before. Ignorance, resistance to new learning, and the relative comfort of people in established professions is maintaining a crushing status quo for the learning disabled who become impoverished, desperate, drugged, and a danger to themselves and to others. So far, jail is the safest place we can put them but it’s not a cure. And I know what would cure them. My frustration knows no bounds.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – <> I can’t feel it, I wouldn’t say, but I can almost imagine it. At one level it’s a feeling known from work, when we know something but can’t convince decision-makers of it – but yours is in an arena where the human costs are excessively high. I’ll be thinking of all of you.

  4. Mary Gibson says:


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