This image on which this reflection is based can be found here.

It is years past the first Christmas with its cold cave,
Straw beds, sleepy shepherds and barnyard beasts.
Here is warmth, soft blankets and animal friends.

Time to play, time to rest, together for a time.
The pleasure of leisure watching God grow up.
A holy family is love made real.

His hammer silent, a father protects, delights in his son.
A spinning woman smiles, stops her daily duties
Of mothering, no smothering here.

We see what we can almost hear –
A savior who smiles and squeals with delight,
Teasing, taunting, prey held high.

His playmate rapt at attention,
Begging for a bit of bird.
All eyes on the boy’s mischievous fun.

Something slumbering inside me awakens.
Year after year I return to this family
To teach me what I forget to remember.

Life is more than work.
Love is not a burden to be borne.
Simple joys in simple living simply strips away the years.

Holy, holy, holy family.
No halos, no angel choirs, no heavenly lights.
The extraordinary ordinary of the holy.

—Fr. J. Michael Sparough, SJ, is a retreat master, writer, and spiritual director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL. His weekly video reflections can be seen at



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