Have you felt a little stress in the last month? Or even a lot of stress?
I have. It's been a crazy time. Partly it's the weather...long nights and short days, and the snow. Partly it's stuff happening to people in my church. And partly it's Christmas.
I have never been to Bethlehem. But I have been to Bethlehem.
What I mean is, I've never been to Israel. But I had an experience very much like it.
In 1988, I went on a pilgrimage. I was part of a church delegation from the Diocese of Chicago. We went to El Salvador and Nicaragua. In 1988, there was a war in both small countries. The war in El Salvador was a war between the oppressive right-wing military government and leftist rebels in the hills. Most of the regular people were caught in the middle.
We visited a refugee camp. The people there were happy to see us. You see, our presence guaranteed their safety, at least for a while. The government soldiers would not come in and hurt them while we North Americans were with them. They shared their food with us even though they were very poor. I have often noticed how generous people can be who don't have much.
In this camp, I took a picture of a baby in a hammock. It was a poor peasant child, born into a place under the thumb of an empire, with soldiers and danger everywhere. I think it was the baby Jesus in 1988.