Everyone’s life is messy in some way. Lives at Maggie’s Place are frequently messier than average. Our moms are pregnant, homeless, and often scared and alone. Many have been abused or struggled with an addiction. They are working hard to accomplish goals like earning a GED, getting a job, and maintaining their sobriety while carrying extra physical weight and frequently feeling sick and fatigued. Life can feel chaotic, scary, uncontrollable.
Babies come anyway. Babies are always born at unexpected moments. As much as we might try to prepare, we never know the exact moment when they will arrive. They don’t wait for everything to be ready; sometimes the hospital bag isn’t even packed yet. They don’t care what day the doctor scheduled their birth to be induced, whether mom will miss an important meeting, or if they wake someone up at 3AM to go to the hospital. Babies come while the rest of the world keeps on turning and often they come into the middle of chaos.
The world 2000 years ago was in no less chaos than it is today. And Jesus came anyway as a baby. Mary’s pregnancy was unexpected. Although Mary was getting close to her due date and would have been better off to stay home and rest, she and Joseph were required to travel to Bethlehem for the census. When they arrived, the town was packed with travelers and hordes of rowdy Roman soldiers. They found themselves homeless for the night, sleeping among cow manure, hay and noisy animals. And baby Jesus came into the middle of the mess and the chaos. Angels proclaimed peace on earth. Shepherds and kings suddenly found a source of hope unlike anything they had ever experienced.
Somehow, all babies bring a feeling of quietness and peace to the room. There is something calming about holding a baby, especially a newborn. There is a sense of awe and beauty about a person so tiny, yet so perfectly human. Even comforting a crying baby can be soothing – to calm a baby, one must calm oneself too. Focusing fully on another person’s needs for a period of time helps to re-frame our own worries and anxieties. For MissionCorps, holding a baby is often a source of stress relief at the end of a long day. Similarly for Maggie’s Place moms, the unconditional love they have for their child can be a comfort amid the many hard things they are going through. Having an infant also gives the moms a sense of hope for the future – a reason to keep working towards their goals, no matter how difficult it gets or how much pressure they feel to turn back to bad habits.
Maybe this peacefulness about babies is why our Lord chose to become one Himself. He comes to bring hope and peace and a reason to live. When the world seems to be spinning out of control, we can always turn to the infant Jesus as a source of rest and inspiration.
By Bonnie Pratt, a MissionCorps