Where is Mary?

Where is Mary?

Nativity sets come in all shapes, sizes and colors.  Mine is made of hand-carved olive wood from Israel. But that’s not what makes it so unusual.

Take a closer look. Can you spot what I mean?


Right in the middle, where he belongs, is baby Jesus in the manger, surrounded by sheep and cattle, bearded shepherds, and even turbaned Magi bearing gifts. But something, or rather someone, is definitely missing.


Why do I continue to use a nativity scene that is missing one of its most significant figures? Well…

Think back to all the newborn photos. What do you see? A beaming father holding a blanket-wrapped bundle with a wrinkly newborn face. Or possibly delighted grandparents or proud aunties holding the little bundle. Sometimes with older siblings looking on in wonder.

Where is the mother in these photos? She is lying down, weary but smiling, wearing a hospital gown and bundled under blankets. Because birthing a baby is hard, painful work and the mother is exhausted.

Now imagine giving birth after traveling cross country for several days, wandering through a strange town trying to find a place to stay, and finally ending up in a stable, which was probably filled with other latecomers who couldn’t find a bed anywhere else. (Even without the other guests, I imagine a stable would be somewhat lacking in privacy.)

On top of all that, poor Mary did not bring any female relatives to coach her through the process.

Not the ideal scenario for your first attempt at childbirth, is it?

So, where is Mary?

Why is she not kneeling with Joseph and the others, admiring the son of God sleeping so peacefully in the manger?

Because she is physically and emotionally drained.  No matter how much she adores her precious son, she has neither the energy nor the inclination to kneel on dirty straw.

Instead, she is curled up in the corner, trying to get some much-needed sleep. She must regain her strength so she can care for that little swaddled bundle who will shortly be wailing because he is hungry or needs a diaper change.

She is still in awe of what has occurred. Of course she is. But she’ll have plenty of time to study the tiny Word-become-flesh in the days to come. Plenty of time to ponder in her heart all that has transpired.

Right now, though, I think she deserves the rest.

Don’t you?

About Lisa Betz

Lisa Betz writes from an empty nest perched on a wooded Pennsylvania hillside. When not volunteering at the school, church or library, she writes about life, both now and two-thousand years ago.

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