The Birth of Jesus: Part of the Family Now

An Ignatian Prayer Adventure online retreat

This post is based on Week Four of An Ignatian Prayer Adventure. For this particular reflection, I’m sharing a raw journal entry. The following letter includes my thoughts right after my meditation on the birth of Jesus.

Dear Lord,

In my reflection today I discovered that I have to enter into my imagination; otherwise I’ll just be sitting waiting for things to magically happen. Lord, help me to use my surroundings and my consciousness as a vehicle—one that carries me into the world of these stories.

Today I tried a technique that my old roommate had taught me. I began by sitting still, praying for peace and calm. I was breathing deeply. And then I imagined myself getting up out of my chair and walking out the door. I walked outside, into the streets, and then into the woods. I was imagining myself running into a different reality, as if I were on a journey into another “imaginative” world. I climbed up some steep rocks, and over the hill was the town called Bethlehem.

It was magnificent and frightening at the same time. There were endless stars spread across the sky. As I made my way into the scene, I felt like a stranger who didn’t belong. But even so, I kept walking closer and closer to what looked like a barn and stables, and it was here that I saw Mary, Joseph, and the maidservant.

Mary had just given birth, and it seemed like I was coming into the calm after the storm. I was standing at a distance in the dark, and Mary caught my eye. She was young and beautiful. She seemed close to my age and a person that I could immediately become friends with. As I looked back, she nodded her head at me as if she were expecting me and—at that moment—I immediately sensed her warmth and her youthfulness, her compassion and love for her son.

I remember approaching the three of them carefully. Baby Yeshua was sleeping. I sat with them gazing at the small miracle, and after a little while, I mustered up the courage to ask Mary: “Can I do anything?”

And Mary whispered in reply, “No, just stay awhile. He’s happy you’re here.”

So I sat peacefully with them, struck with wonder and awe at the sight of our Savior.

Mary then asked if I wanted to hold him, and I could sense her warm smile and encouragement. She knew I was nervous and assured me, saying, “This child is as much yours as he is mine.” And as I was holding him I felt so humbled and honored. I kept whispering to him, “You’re going to save the world, and you don’t even know it.”

The funny thing is that this session on the “Birth of Jesus” was more about Mary than anyone else. I encountered Mary in an entirely new way. She was young and beautiful, warm and welcoming, and in many ways, I could sense she was terrified of a mysterious future—just like me. But this didn’t stop her from carrying on with what she promised. Fear did not paralyze this woman, because her faith in God consumed her. It was a humbling experience.

When it was time to go, Mary took back Yeshua, and she looked at me again and said, “You’re a part of the family now.”

Thank you, Mary, for letting me into your family’s life.

I’m just excited, Lord. I’m excited to watch you grow up.

Until next time,



  1. What a beautiful reflection. What imagination. Jesus, Mary, Joseph and St. Ignatius are smiling down on you. Thank you.

  2. “He is happy you are here.”
    “You’re a part of the family Now”.
    “She gave me her son to hold”.
    What a detailed creative use of imagination. As I read your letter,something called Grace, held me through, warming,healing,humbling, and ,yes–feeling the ever constant Presence: a Mother’s love for her Son and all of us.

  3. Thanks Jurell for such a beautiful reflection on being there with the holy family. I am having trouble seeing through the tears as I type this thank you to you. So beautiful! I will use this again during Advent and through Christmas. Peace!

  4. Jurell, thank you for sharing so deeply and honestly from your own experience. I was also blessed with an intimate experience with the Holy Family when I made the 19th Annotation three years ago. These are gifts of grace from our Lord and we are never the same after such an experience. Blessings.


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