Friday, December 18, 2009
The Nativity: Good Romance Transcends the Test of Time
And you SO know I mean this:
That whole Christmas story? The Nativity? O Holy Night???? Step out of the gentility of Luke and examine this story with its constant stream of tension, conflict, anger, disillusionment, angels, babies tracked by evil men of power, oh Mylanta!!!!!
(I LOVE a well-placed angel in a story!!!! Clarence, “It’s a Wonderful Life”???? Too cute!)
All the elements we LOVE in a great romance. I mean my goodness gracious sakes to Betsy, if you remove the element of Godliness for just a moment (Now don’t get your knickers in a bunch, for heaven’s sake, I’m just doing it for a minute… Consider it a classroom exercise.)
… And examine the story as told…
Nora Roberts and Debbie Macomber together couldn’t have done it better.
Oh, that God!!!! He’s a smart one, isn’t he??????
Let’s break it down: SECRET BABY!!!
Whoa. Tighten the reins, brother. Hold onto your hats, sister!
Right there they’ve got you because whenever you hear the term ‘secret baby’ you immediately want to know WHY is it a secret baby?
Was the father out of the picture? A scoundrel? Kept in the dark purposely for either the mother’s ulterior motive or her totally unselfish motives?
A HERO IN LOVE WITH A WOMAN CARRYING SOMEONE ELSE’S CHILD…
Whoa again. Pause. Take a breath.
What kind of hunka, hunka burnin’ love does that? Falls in love with a woman carrying someone else’s child, especially if they were romantically involved before. In this case they weren’t only involved, they were engaged. Betrothed. Slated to be wed. Instantly we perceive the hero (Joseph) as caring, empathetic, forgiving, patient and kind. The great beard just adds to his aura, especially if he had a hint of gray at the temples…
Think Gibbs, NCIS. Or Sean Connery. No, just think Gibbs. Those knowing looks, the tiny crinkle to the eye, the slight tilt of his head. Knowing. Caring. Trying his best ,although tortured.
Oh my stars, now that’s a Nora Roberts specialty, but she totally stole the idea from God.
A virgin shall conceive a child who will be of God’s design…
So beautiful in its simplicity and virtuosity.
Now let’s make the virgin a sweet, young woman, pure of heart and soul.
By this point you’ve bonded with the young woman in empathy and sympathy, you’ve all fallen in love with Joseph for his obvious distress that gave way to his overwhelming desire to do the right thing, be the guy that rises to the occasion despite circumstances and the opinions of others.
AND A BABY…
Guys and gals, every editor worth his or her salt will tell you babies are wonderful assets to romance. Stellar. Marvelous. Total win/win because babies draw people in, they sucker punch with those big, round eyes, their helplessness, their very innocence of being. Oh yeah, adding a baby to your romance??? Never a bad thing. In this case, we not only have a baby, we have Jesus. God. Wonderful, Counselor, the Prince of Peace.
A baby who needs protection from the elements, the animals, a child of the poor sought by men in power, a target of Herod’s anger and pride, a baby whose life would be saved by heavenly intervention, a night messenger who conveys the danger to Mary and Joseph, pushing them to flee to Egypt while so many others lost their baby boys to Herod’s killing swords.
Think of “Willow” … Elora Danan, the baby girl Daikini destined by birth to be queen and hunted by the evil Bavmorda, very Herod-like
Picture Froto, the very unlikely but chosen hero of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Harry Potter, put upon, abused, having no fine demeanor, no great bearing.
Those are a few simplistic examples of how often our fiction parallels the basics of that Holy Night, that Night of Nights, a night of angels, cherubim and seraphim, praising God, heralding shepherds with that first “Noel”, the star shining bright, announcing the birth of a king to those smart enough to read the signs.
We love to cheer the underdog. We cherish a great conflict made right when the elements seem strongly ingrained against success. We laugh, we cry, we run the full gamut of emotions because it matters. The story touches our heart or embraces our souls. In the case of the Nativity, it does both with simple characters who go the distance each and every time despite their misgivings.
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…
Mary’s prayer recorded in Luke’s gospel declares her faith, her strength, her willingness to her cousin Elisabeth. Despite the odds, she believes, hangs on, hangs in, takes one for the team. Being Catholic I was raised with the Magnificat (Mary’s canticle of praise when she greets Elisabeth) as her announcement of doing what God asked of her despite the consequences. Such a glorious prayer, so much of it incorporated into hymns we sing today.
You go, girl!!!
We love that in a story. We seek that in our lives, but it’s an elusive goal. We want good to conquer evil, we root for right over might, David over Goliath, and we absolutely, positively need Darth Vader to sacrifice himself to save Luke Skywalker’s life because we know the tiny thread of remaining good within him thwarts the largest evil, the lust for power.
We love romance. We love writing it, reading it, disseminating it, living it. Regardless of denominational ties, we seek the peace and beauty of this story for its true meaning, a God-child offered for the good of all, God made man, God among us, Emmanuel.
God with us, forever and ever.
Silent night, Holy night… All is calm, all is bright.