This month I've decided to let nature show me what's behind the advent calendar door each day leading up to Christmas Eve.
Today this gentle pair of wild turkeys stopped by the yard to scratch around. They have been making themselves scarce since Thanksgiving, so it was a happy sight in the advent calendar door.
Turkeys symbolize a gift of thanksgiving, abundance, and the great give-away. A reminder that no matter what's happening-- our challenges, or those whom we love, have come as a gift to strengthen our faith and to grow in spirit. They come to pass, not to stay, and leave us in a higher state of consciousness if we let it. It's always a thrill to see wild turkeys close to the house-- a time to reflect on the goodness already here and all the blessings to be grateful for, as well as those we can be for others.
Christ's birth is closely associated with the animal kingdom. Mary journeyed to Bethlehem on the back of a donkey. The baby Jesus was born in a manger. The wise men journeyed on camels to bring gifts to the Bethlehem babe. Dogs watched over the shepherds' flocks by night when the angels brought glad tidings of great joy.
Our furry family members, with their warm unconditional love, add to the celebration of Christmas. It is interesting to note that Saint Francis of Assisi (Patron Saint of Animals) is credited with creating the first nativity scene in 1223, a live one.
Listed below are some of the different animals included as part of the Christmas stories told through the years.
Bees - hummed a Christmas carol.
Beetle - became a glow worm and its light guided travelers.
Cat - appeared, but disdained to join the kneeling beasts and only mumbled in recognition. Amused at its independence, Mother Mary blessed it, saying that it would always live at man's hearth, but never be man's servant.
Camels - represented religious traditions.
Cow - donated her fresh hay to Mary for the Baby's bed and warmed the Child with her breath.
Doves - cooed Jesus to sleep.
Nightingale - had never sung before that night, but the choir of angels roused it and the bird caroled with them.
Owl - did not rouse itself to join its fellow animals and was condemned to perpetual penance, hiding by day and by night, crying "Who will guide me to the new born? Who? Who?"
Robin - fanned the fire in the cave of Bethlehem and kept it burning throughout the night. Its red breast singed by the flames became its mark of generosity.
Rooster - crowed all night.
Sheep - gave Mary the wool to weave a soft blanket.
Stork - plucked its own feathers to soften the infant's bed and so remained the patron of babies ever after.
Let us remember the animal and plant kingdom in our prayers of gratitude today. You may want to have the nature angels reveal an advent door for you each day. If so pay special attention to any unusual encounters. What were you thinking/doing when it appeared? Enjoy the inner wisdom that comes with the gift.
Love and joyful blessings,
Love and joyful blessings,
(animal symbols from web)