Thursday, December 23, 2010

Animals make peace at Christmas

Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks
Animals often symbolize peace at Christmastime -- from the dove to the ox and donkey in the stable where Jesus was born. Animals are important in the lives of many LGBT people, and sometimes become our “surrogate children,” so I gladly devote this Christmas post to animals.

Jesus tells the story of his birth to animals in the following scene from my novel “Jesus in Love.”

Another vision of animals living in harmony is the painting “Peaceable Kingdom” by Edward Hicks, a 19th-century American folk painter and Quaker minister. Hicks’ art is set to music in a video by James Hilden-Minton, a financial analyst and theology student who writes short contemplative songs for churches and spiritual groups.

Jesus is so in tune with nature that he can converse with animals in my novel “Jesus in Love.” While the book is known for exploring Jesus’ bisexual and trangender feelings, many readers say that this retelling of the Christmas story is one of their favorite scenes. The following scene takes place during Jesus’ wilderness fast.
The cave was filled with animals and angels. The angels were like snatches of melody or wisps of light, singing a prophecy from Isaiah that I had loved since childhood. As they sang, Isaiah’s vision materialized right before my eyes and I was part of it: “The wolf shall live with the lamb. The leopard and the young goat shall lie down together while the lion cub makes friends with the calf, with a little child to guide them. The baby shall play near the cobra’s hole. Nobody will
be hurt or injured on my holy mountain, for the earth will be flooded with the knowledge of God as water fills the sea.”…

The scene reminded me of a story that Mom and Papa-Joe told me about my birth, so I tried to share it with the animals. “I was born in a stable, a place kind f like this cave,” I began. It was tricky translating my thoughts into the vibrations of so many different species at once. Some understood more than others.

“Animals were with me when I was born. There were some like you...and you...and you.” I pointed at the sheep, the goats, the donkeys, and the oxen. “After I was born, I slept in a manger, a place where animals ate their food.”

“Food!” Everyone was interested in this part of my story. We talked about food for a long time, until the sun began to set.

“You are like food. You make me feel good,” Old Snake said to me, and the others sounded their agreement.

A wonderful song about the animals and baby Jesus is “The Friendly Beasts” by an unknown 12th-century author. Thanks to C.W.S., a friend of this blog, for alerting us to the hymn, which begins:

Jesus, our Brother, strong and good,
Was humbly born in a stable rude,
And the friendly beasts around Him stood,
Jesus, our Brother, strong and good.

“I,” said the donkey, shaggy and brown,
“I carried His mother uphill and down,
I carried His mother to Bethlehem town;
I,” said the donkey, shaggy and brown...

Click here for the whole song

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Turtle by Trudie Barreras

A reminder for pet lovers: Artist Trudie Barreras has generously offered to do a personalized pet portrait for anyone who makes a $25 donation to the Jesus In Love Blog. Click here for details.

1 comment:

Trudie said...

As with so many of the vignettes in "Jesus in Love", this description of his interaction with the animals during the time in the wilderness adds a whole new spiritual dimension for me. Somehow, it seems to tie in with some of the Vision Quests of American Indians, where the person seeks his or her "power animal". Every time I re-read these books, I am newly enthralled by this scene.