At Christmas time, I wonder about Mary’s thoughts at the cross. I know I should be thinking about the stable, but somehow my thoughts wander to the earthly end of things. Did she ponder God’s wisdom as she began sorting through all of her thoughts and feelings? The stable is cozy. The cross is cold. I am sure she questioned the order of things in her everyday world as she looked for comfort and reason.

Everyone knows that the blue one comes after the brown, and the red follows the green; and even though the yellow one is a bit smaller it still goes in between the dull black and the shiny turquoise. Whenever you arrange buttons on a table, there is an order that must be followed. Some things, of course, are alphabetized; like animals, going from aardvark and armadillo straight through duck and elephant on your way to zebra. And, other things are arranged by height or size; like the line of boys at the prep school in their brilliant blue vests with the gold crest, standing in line, tallest to shortest, in the crisp air of fall term. Other things are grouped by color or likeness; like sorting marbles or separating the trash from the recyclables. But, this type of order results in groups and piles rather than lines of succession. No, buttons to be properly done should be lined up in order. So why would anyone with a lick of sense put the blue one before the brown or pair up the red and the yellow?

In the beginning, as God was creating the animals, the penguins must have thought that God had it all together. Their bodies were perfect for slicing through the cold arctic water and navigating through the shifting passages of floating ice. The world was perfect and they knew it. Then He made a giraffe. And, I am sure that they thought that God was out of his mind because order and rationality had been severely disturbed. Deliberately. But the penguins had forgotten the one great truth of the stage: The lights are not there for us. They belong to the theater. We are just passing through them for a spell.

used with permission from Wipf and Stock Publishers,

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