Creating a Manger in our Lives.

A fable from my childhood came to mind recently. It went something like this:

In the carpenter’s shop the tools were tetchy.

“Brother Hammer, you’re too noisy.”

“Me? Brother Plane’s work is all superficial. No depth.”

“Me? Brother Tape Measure is always telling others what to do, measuring us all by his own standards.”

“Me? It’s Brother Screwdriver who drives us all crazy going round in circles.”

“Me? Sister Sandpaper always rubbing the wrong way.”

“Me? Sister Saw goes back and forth endlessly.”

Then the footsteps of the carpenter could be heard and the bickering ceased. When he entered the shop, he put on his apron, went to his bench, and picked up Brother Tape Measure, then Brother Plane, then Brother Hammer and Sister Screwdriver, then Sister Saw, and lastly Sister Sandpaper, whom he used to smooth all the rough edges of the manger he had made. A manger for a herd of animals to snuffle their noses in so as to find the oats in the bleak midwinter.

Perhaps through the season of Advent we should make a manger in our lives, being guided by he who learnt these skills in a Nazareth workshop.

Measure where we are in relation to he who gave the length of his.

Plane away the places where forgiveness is needed.

Hammer against the injustices of the world and screw together the fragments in need of reconciliation.

Saw away the dead branches that need to be pruned so that we might grow.

Sand the rough edges of our tongues, our thoughts, our lack of generosity.

In such a way we respond to the invitation “come let us walk in the light of the Lord” and Jesus is laid again in the manger of our lives and our communities.

From the manger he looks at us, and the whole world, with eyes of peace and forgiveness and love. Just as he will when others use their carpentry skills to fix a wooden beam to a tree outside a city wall.

Travel well this Advent in the company of the master carpenter and see again his most amazing creation, not in wood and nails, but in flesh and blood.