Saturday, December 17, 2011
It may seem as though I don't like Christmas
Really, I do like Christmas. Honest I do. I wanted to write a nice, Christmas story to warm the reader's heart, but Bruce Murdock, from Portland's K103 radio station made me veer off the road with a story from Richland, Washington, yesterday. During a living nativity scene in front of the Cathedral of Joy, one of the shepherds burst into flame. They think his robes got too near the campfire and set him alight. While he tumbled down a hill, the three Wiseman tackled him, beating out the flames with their frankincense and myrrh. He was rushed to the local medical center with first and second degree burns to his hands and face.
After a short delay, the show went on.
Bruce Murdock went on to tell about his own Christmas experience back in about 1977. Like me, his house backed up to the woods and he was used to seeing the usual Pacific Northwest wildlife in his yard; raccoons, possums, etc., but as he stood at the kitchen sink, he glanced out of the window and spotted a sheep.
I've never spotted a sheep in my yard. I've had possum, raccoons, rabbits, deer, coyotes, snakes, bobcats and bears, but never have I had a sheep. Apparently he hadn't either.
He noticed it had a collar around its fluffy neck and scooped up his dog's leash, carefully approaching the animal, and slipping the hook onto the ring. He led the walking fleece into the front yard and tied it to the porch railing. Then he dialed 9-1-1.
"Oh, are you near the church?" the police asked.
They had been doing a living nativity at their neighborhood church when something frightened the sheep, causing a stampede out of the manger.
It was probably the flame from the shepherd’s robe.
A coworker told me nativity scenes are really dangerous, even the non-living ones. As a child, in Denmark, his father set up a small scene on his mother's sewing table. His dad had paper colored like stone, with a rough texture, that he'd drape across the table. He then placed Mary and Joseph and the baby, Jesus, into a little manager area made up of moss and rocks, surrounded by sheep and cattle, finally adding the shepherds and Wisemen on the outskirts.
After several years of this, they came home from the midnight service on Christmas Eve and lit the tiny candles to reflect on the coming of the Lord before going to bed. A little spark from the wick drifted down and set the three-year-old-moss on fire and the entire scene when up with a whoosh.
Might be how the shepherd's robes caught fire up in Richland.
Editor's note: Melanie Sherman does not know if it was the three Wiseman who beat out the flames of the shepherd.