HomeRetreatsCreativity During Advent: A Writing Exercise

Creativity During Advent: A Writing Exercise

red star - photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

Imagine that Jesus is going to be born in your neighborhood. Try to forget the details of the Gospel story, and approach this divine event as if God is just now bringing the baby Jesus into our world. That means that the details can be what you imagine them to be.

This is not an exercise in following the Scriptural account of Jesus’ birth. Rather, it is an exercise in imagining who Jesus might be in today’s world—what family he might come from, where he might be born, what the political and social context might be, and so forth.

The purpose is to open our hearts anew to the coming of the Christ Child.

Try to construct the scene.

Where will this happen? In a hospital? In someone’s home? Outdoors?

What time of day? In the middle of the night? In the morning or afternoon? And in what kind of weather?

Who will be involved? Whose family will he be born into? Will it be a large family, or will Jesus be the firstborn and only child? Will doctors or other medical personnel be around?

Will the scene be peaceful or chaotic? Will it happen in a calm atmosphere or in the middle of some event? Will it be a secret or highly publicized?

Where will you be in this scene? Part of the family, maybe even the mother or father? A neighbor? A member of another part of the community—of a different race or ethnicity?

What impact will this birth have immediately, if any?

How do you want to be involved in this holy event, and why?

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash.

Vinita Hampton Wright
Vinita Hampton Wrighthttp://www.loyolapress.com/authors/vinita-hampton-wright
Vinita Hampton Wright edited books for 32 years, retiring in 2021. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places and spirituality books Days of Deepening Friendship, The Art of Spiritual Writing, Small Simple Ways: An Ignatian Daybook for Healthy Spiritual Living, and, most recently, Set the World on Fire: A 4-Week Personal Retreat with the Female Doctors of the Church. Vinita is a spiritual director and continues to facilitate retreats and write fiction and nonfiction. She lives with her husband, two dogs, and a cat in Springdale, Arkansas.


  1. Christmas 2020
    December 2020, a lovely young woman, only a teen herself, moved purposely among her fellow travelers toward the end of a long journey, seeking a place of safety and shelter where she could birth the babe who lay inside her womb. A young man, a little older than herself, with kind eyes and gentle smile, had seen her among the crowd and understood the weariness and fear she wore upon her face. He approached her quietly and, noticing that she was with child, offered to be her companion along the dangerous journey. She nodded her head in grateful surrender.
    After many long days of walking, they arrived late in the evening at the great wall of the US/Mexico border seeking a place to rest. She was one of many such women seeking refuge from oppression and violence at home: some ending up at infested tent cities on a distant island in Greece, others at war-torn camps in Kenya, some finding only the remains of damaged buildings left behind when hurricanes ravaged their homes and flooded their land or when fire left ashes and soot as the only reminders of the life they left behind.
    The young woman’s name was Maria and her pilgrim companion Jose. They were of Hispanic descent, but they could have been Black, Asian or Native American, of Jewish or Muslim faith, lesbian or gay, disabled, uneducated, unemployed, a victim of poverty or abuse. Jose looked among the hundreds traveling with them to find water, food and rest.
    When it was close to midnight, Maria asked Jose to take her to a dark corner in the cage where they were housed. He laid his cloak on the cold dirt floor and stood guard to keep her safe while her baby was born. Mary made not a sound in spite of the pain of birthing her child. No one noticed the miracle that had just taken place as she swaddled the infant in wrappings of soft, warm cloth she had packed for this child.
    As Jose wrapped his cloak around the grateful mother to keep her warm, the beautiful boy she named Jesus let out his first loud cry. All the weary travelers awoke from their sleep and turned toward the corner where lay the mother and child. The moon and the stars grew brighter. Jose lifted the light from his lantern so all could see the beautiful face of their Savior. One by one the people came alive to the moment: the men stood and formed a barrier to keep away the wind; the women began to sing a beautiful lullaby they learned at their mothers’ knee when the women were young and their country was free; the children grabbed small tokens of love to lay at the feet of the child. Calmed by the sound of the song and cheered by the faces of children, the baby looked into their eyes and smiled. Everyone burst into music and dance, hope and life were enfleshed again, Christ was incarnated in the hearts of his people and God’s kingdom had come to this tiny part of the word.
    How can I incarnate Christ in the small part of the world around me today?

    • Thank you for this poignant modern rebelling of the birth of Christ in our times! I also had pictured the newborn as a person of color living in a tenement in either the Bronx or Brooklyn NYC to a single teenage mother. I pictured her in Great poverty dependent on Government subsidies and feeling very isolated and alone. Still, she had great love and devotion for the child that she was carrying and over time people in her neighborhood started to notice something about her that was different , radiant and noble and when the child was born, they were magnetized to her and the baby !

  2. Jesus will be born in my home due to Covid-19. Hospitals have no room available and people are too scare and panic of Covid to let strangers coming in to their homes. The Holy Family has no found a place to stay. It is evening and getting dark. It is cold outside. There is a Covid surge and new lockdown with many restrictions have emerged. Joseph comes to my neighborhood and knocks doors but no one open. My home is the last home. Joseph knocks my front door. I look through the window and notice a pregnant woman standing by the door. Mary and Joseph smile to me. I open the door and welcome them in my home. I ask them if they are hungry. They told me they had not eaten for while. So I prepare a dinner for them. After dinner I provide clean towels for them to take a shower and room to sleep. Joseph says Mary has not been feeling well and that he thinks the baby will be born sometime soon. I reply that I have a home emergency kit that will help us to assist Mary labor and new blanket to cover the baby but call me because we both will assist. It is December 25, 2020 around 4:00am , I hear some noise and a baby cry. I get up from bed and walk to their room with the emergency kit. I see Joseph holding baby Jesus in his arms. I assist Mary and clean up her. I clean the baby and cover Him with a blanket. My hope is Baby Jesus is born in my heart, in my home and particularly within my family that are in much need of His presence and action.
    Hope, joy and peace during this time.

  3. Jesus will be born in a large city in the northern United States. It’s been a tumultuous year—a mysterious virus has spread throughout the country, mostly affecting the elderly population. The hospitals are full and can’t accept a pregnant mother. His parents now realize that their child won’t be born in a clean medical facility, so they walk through the city looking for a safe place to rest.
    Almost every storefront entry that could protect them from the cold, north wind has already been taken up by other people. His father is surprised at the numbers living on the streets. As he and his pregnant wife continue to search for a place they learn that in a desperate attempt to halt the spread of the illness, businesses had closed, forcing millions to be unemployed and eventually homeless.
    There’s proof that violence had taken place in this city—store windows are boarded up with remnants of broken glass on the sidewalk. Nearby statues have been torn down. The parents of the soon-to-be-born babe have come face to face with the country’s political unrest.
    They realize they are about to be parents in the wrong place at the wrong time, but they are faithful. They put their trust in God, knowing that somehow He has things under control.
    They continue walking, the mother clings in pain to her husband as she begins contractions. They turn the corner of a dark street and their hope is stirred as they see the flashing red lights display the words “Family Homeless Shelter.” Their worries and fears turn into laughter as they marvel at how good God is.

    I want to be involved in this story by being the homeless shelter’s doorman (woman). I want to welcome Jesus and his parents into a clean, safe, warm shelter. It may be full, but we’ll find a way to fit them in. The homeless are excited to welcome this new family.

  4. A Grandfather’s Prayer Poem

    Three days have passed
    Since our joyful news
    God has blessed
    our Fourth Daughter too

    A birthday party
    Arranged with great love
    For her spritely
    Daughter at the age of three
    Parents, Grandparents and
    Her Great grandparent too
    Celebrating Our little “you know who”

    A final gift – a book
    Shared the call
    It’s title delivering
    Joyful News to Us all

    God’s love to her and to you
    It’s title revealed
    “You Will Be a Big Sister Too”

    The joy – the tears
    The happiness and hugs,
    Now like her older sister-
    There will be TWO

    Two days later
    Our joy has turned to ash
    As news came our way
    That our fourth daughter
    Had a visit from Corona

    So now we get tested
    To find out our fate
    Praying for our daughter
    And the little one of late
    Hoping that Corona
    Will soon not stay to late

    For the little One of old
    The Savior of us all
    Was born in a stable
    Donkeys, lambs and
    Diseases all

    A mother and father
    On that cold morn
    Cradling an infant
    Who had just been born

    So in this morning
    of 2020
    We plead for your Spirit
    For our family
    And Gifted persons
    Who bring relief, healing and Grace

    A mother, A father
    A baby arriving
    Living in Hope
    and trust in God
    As our Savior

    We ask for your Faith
    From that time so long ago
    That came from that stable
    Oh Come, O Come Emanuel!

  5. Thanks Vinita. Jesus will be born in Africa. People from across Africa, North America, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Oceania and Asia will celebrate this momentous event with prayer, singing, sharing of wealth and riches, and wishing each other a Merry Christmas.

    • So neat to realize that except for the new fiction birthplace, this has come true–prayer, singing, sharing of wealth and riches because of Christ’s birth! Praise be to God! Thanks for the beautiful thoughts.

  6. He will be born in a Covid environment and with hospitals stretched, he will be born at home through the assistance of his paternal grandmother who is an experienced midwife nurse. His parents will be overjoyed and will forever be grateful that God in his infinite wisdom gave the vocation of nursing to Joseph’s mother. They do not think it is just by a chance that she is a midwife. There will be an aura of holiness around their house and the community around will pray intensely for Covid to end as they know that without travel and social distance restrictions, they will be welcomed in this blessed household…and without masks. Supernatural events that will glorify God will take place including unexplained end of Covid. Authenticity, love will return to the world and crucifixion will no longer be necessary..

  7. Thank you Vinta – your reflections inspire.

    A Grandfathers Prayer-Poem
    for A Christmas Fulfilled

    A healthy baby boy
    In an unhealthy year,
    Arriving at last
    before the New Year.

    A 40-year old mother,
    the first daughter of six,
    Who, with her husband,
    so wanted a brother
    For their three-year old son

    These past nine months,
    Spent virtually alone,
    With joyful time
    of prayers answered
    from Above

    Two grandmothers watch,
    Holding hope in their hearts,
    That all will go well
    with this next-born son

    Both, who have seen
    the loss of a little one,
    -a brother, a son,
    now looking down
    from the heavens above

    Wanting to hold
    and caress this little one
    who is yet to come,
    Bringing new hope
    and peace to each of them

    Three wise-men sit watching
    this tableau fulfilling,
    Thinking and hoping
    Of the prophecy yet to come
    And wondering silently –
    Aboutl courage and hope

    And so they pray
    for healing and health,
    of three women
    and a girlfriend
    who came just to help.

  8. I imagine Jesus is born in a slum in Mumbai, India. Its early in the day, but there is much noise, talking and music. Into this commotion Jesus is born and the word spreads around like wild fire. People collect outside the hut and the Little Babe is passed around. Soon His parents loose sight of Him, but they do not seem to be worried. I am a neighbour and I get a chance to cuddle Him – such a peace and joy passes through me. However I have to pass Him on. People are waiting to hold Him in their arms. I shall not forget the joy I experienced. After what seems like an age I can see Baby Jesus being brought back to His parents. There seems to be such an aura of peace and joy in this surrounding. Its amazing!

  9. Thanks Vinita. Jesus will be born in a war-torn country. He will be born in a military hospital, the only medical facility available. His parents are poor. Jesus’ birth will impact the doctor who delivers him, the medical staff and all those in the hospital who are recovering from war wounds. They will look into the eyes of this helpless baby, there will be tears in their own eyes and they will fall in love: with humanity, with peace and with joy. His birth will touch all these people so deeply they will talk about it with everyone they meet and the message will spread around the world. I will hear the news from a soldier.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Loretta Pehanich
Marina Berzins McCoy
Tim Muldoon