Whatever else be lost among the years, Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing: Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears, Let us hold close one day, remembering Its poignant meaning for the hearts of men. Let us get back our childlike faith again.
~Grace Noll Crowell~
I’ve been thinking about the Christmas shows of my childhood.
Back in “my day”, we did not have TV channels that aired cartoons and kid’s shows 24/7, 365 days per year. Back in my day, we had a handful of television channels, and if you could convince your father that Barney Miller was a rerun, you may just get to watch that Christmas special on CBC.
Yes kids, one TV. Horrifying I know, but we made it. Oh, and did I mention?
I was the remote control until some time in 1983.
Anyway, I was like many other kids around the planet, and I waited for those special, once a year programs that were a sure sign that Santa was on the way. Of course, the old standards, like Charlie Brown’s Christmas, Rudolph and Frosty were always on the menu. But for me, the one that always pulled at my heartstrings was Nester. Every year, I would check the local TV listings to make sure I did not miss it. Each time I watched, I would cry for Nester and his hardships, even though I knew the plot of the story by heart, and knew he would be eventually okay.
Nester was a long-eared donkey who, much like Rudolph, was ridiculed for his physical differences. Nester could not work like the other donkeys, as he kept tripping over his big ears, that were so long they dragged on the ground.
The story of Nester is an emotional one. He is ridiculed, pushed out into the cold. He loses the most important person in his life, and wonders how he will ever go on. At certain points, he feels worthless, and wonders why he should bother to even try and keep going in his life. And then he meets his cherub, who tells him she is there, on behalf of God, to guide him. As she puts it,
The good news? He believed and listened to that gentle guidance. He listened because he wanted to honor the memory of his mother. And what happened? He ended up being the very special donkey that carried Mary to Bethlehem.
My point? I think we are all a little more like Nester than we might like to admit. And no, not just the ears.
We are all flawed and imperfect in some way. Each one of our lives is, in one way or another, a little broken. It is never what we envision or plan for, or what we feel we deserve.
We sometimes struggle through life carrying the ball and chain of our own perceptions. We spend most of our lives seeing what is wrong about us, neglecting to notice what is right. And then, to top it all off, sometimes, really bad things happen. People we love get sick, or even die.
But, just like Nester, I believe there is guidance and love from above all around us. We simply have to be willing to hear it, and to abide by it even when it does not make sense to us, even when we are hurting. Do you know why?
Because what we can’t see is that all those flaws, and disappointments and heartaches are exactly what make us into the person God needs us to be here on earth. Each one of those things that we may see as a weakness, God sees as a strength, as something we will be able to use for our own special jobs here on earth. And the job?
It does not involve a cubicle, or a time card.
For me, I think I am supposed to help and comfort people who hurt, if it is only to say that you will make it, and you are never alone. I think if I can do that, I am a success.
One of the songs in this show gently guides Nester to listen to the gentle whispers from heaven,
Today, in this season of magic and angels, I would like to ask you to do the same. Look not only at what has happened to you in your life. Look at how it uniquely prepares you to help others who may need it. Look how your gifts can be used to show others a little piece of heaven right here, right now, when they need it the most.
I’m a Nester. Are you?