Christmas Reflections

We received a Christmas miracle of our own this year: Jamie was able to get a flight on Christmas Eve!

Since I’ll be posting a bit more infrequently this week as my entire family enjoys the holiday together, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my best Christmas ever. It actually wasn’t even at Christmastime. Huh? As I posted at this time last year, when I was at BYU I did a Study Abroad in the Holy Land, with Israel, Egypt and Jordan as my home. It was my privilege to study under some of the most renowned Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders in all of Jerusalem.

One particular outing still resonates in my mind. We’d gone to Bethlehem and had toured the Church of the Nativity and other related sites. From there, it was onto Shepherd’s Field where I witnessed for the first time what the true meaning of Christmas was all about….

“I am sitting here at Shepherd’s Field, enjoying the view of Jerusalem today. Call me crazy, but whenever I’ve thought of ‘fields,’ I’ve always thought of green grass and rolling hills! The area we’re in forms kind of a valley, with rocks at every footstep. There is a scattering of small trees that appear to be scratching their fingernails on an ebony sky. This is the only form of life in this desolate, harsh terrain.

Shepherd’s Field. How many hours did the shepherds spend with their flocks here, just enjoying its quiet beauty? What a simple yet fulfilling life they must have lived. Yet they must have been such righteous men, so in control of their own world. What an honor to be witnesses of both angels on high, and then, the Messiah. What an incredible place this must have been to come back to! A place of divine manifestation, a choice place where the Son of God would begin his mortal existence. There is so much that has happened in this Holy Land. The ministering of angels, the footprints of the prophets, the touch of the Christ.

It’s 7:40 p.m. and the Muslim’s Call to Prayer echoes throughout the valley. It’s as if it is coming from two separate sides of Jerusalem and I am the central focal point where they both shall meet. In the moonlight, it appears as if everything around me is moving in slow motion. A subtle, heady perfume is in the night air. The darkened sky is pure, cluttered only by an eternity of stars.

I rarely recognize significant moments when they occur. Momentous things seem to happen without the clash of cymbals or the beating of drums. Usually they occur in the most innocuous and mundane moments, and we understand the impact only when we view it from the summit of the future. But tonight, I recognize. And appreciate. And will never forget….”

-Jerusalem Study Abroad
July 31, 1997
Merry Christmas to all!

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