My grandmother liked going to church on Sundays. It was an interesting juxtaposition to growing up on an Indian Reservation, given the history of the pressures of Catholicism upon the indigenous cultures in the Americas. Even so, she seemed to practice two religions. Grandma’s contribution to the glamor of the church one year was to spruce it up on Saturdays every other month. And she called upon my sister Tammy and I to be her sidekicks. It was an interesting chore but respectfully we did our part to make sure every bench was polished and the hymnals were all in place for Sunday’s service. We observed the Santos and Retablos with childlike curiosity and Grandma encouraged us to sculpt our own Nativity sets.
At first, we made the traditional style, Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus, etc., then I decided I wanted to do something entirely different. I imagined the journey Mary and Joseph would have taken to Bethlehem in anticipation of the birth of Baby Jesus. And this is how I imagined it, with a heavy but elegant movement, the feel of cold in the air and the strength and grace it would have taken to endure such an event.
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