Last December I shared a precious Christmas memory from my childhood, helping my father prepare his traditional family recipe for plum pudding. New readers can refer to my archives if they would like to read that article.
This year's special memory is of the first Advent season I spent at Mount Saint Agnes Academy when I was ten. In what I call a mysterious move by God, I was enrolled by my Anglican father and Jewish mother, neither of whom attended any religious services, in a Catholic school. It seems that when they married, they agreed not to impose either of their religions on my brother and me. We learned respect for God through our nightly prayers with our mother, but we did not have a clear understanding of who Jesus was.
It was the custom during Advent for the nuns to give us each a flyer containing directions for making a "crib" for Baby Jesus It listed various prayers and recitations, each of which represented an item needed to prepare a baby's bed. For example, the mattress might be ten Our Father's, the sheet might be fifteen Glory Be's, and the blanket ten Hail Mary's. In addition, there would be a pillow and a pillowcase. As a child who had never been exposed to any details of the Christian faith, I was absolutely fascinated with this ritual. I was to have the honor of preparing a crib, in reality my heart, where the Christchild would be welcomed.
Now, as an adult, I believe I know why this so appealed to my young spirit. Through this symbolic exercise, God was giving me a tangible point of contact to begin to place my faith in and build my anticipation for the One whom I would eventually receive into my heart as my Lord and Savior.
Praise God for the mysterious ways in which the Good Shepherd leads us into His fold.
Laura Allen Nonemaker