On the doorway into the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel, there are numerous decorations that span, in microcosm, the life of Jesus. The church itself, of course, is built over what tradition says was the cave-like area in which Mary lived with her parents and is held (by some) to be the actual location where Mary receive her angelic visitor. I’ve shared photos of the location where it is claimed to have happened. Today, and tomorrow, I’ll share a couple of the images that are from the doorway entering into the church itself.
The doors are bronze and today’s picture is a sculpture that depicts the Christ Child being upheld by his mother, Mary. In the background lurk some of the animals in the stable, and Joseph, almost shrinking back in wonder and perhaps a bit of fear, at what has happened.
One of my favorite Christian singer/composer/musicians for many years has been Michael Card. Of course, the Christ Child (and to a lesser extent, Mary) are typically thought of as the stars of the show. In one of his songs (Joseph’s Song) Michael Card ponders what may have been going through Joseph’s mind and heart:
“How could it be this baby in my arms
Sleeping now, so peacefully
The Son of God, the angel said
How could it be
Lord I know He’s not my own
Not of my flesh, not of my bone
Still Father let this baby be
The son of my love. (Chorus)
“Father show me where I fit into this plan of yours
How can a man be father to the Son of God
Lord for all my life I’ve been a simple carpenter
How can I raise a king, How can I raise a king
He looks so small, His face and hands so fair
And when He cries the sun just seems to disappear
But when He laughs it shines again
How could it be?” (Chorus)
Good questions, yes?
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1956, a baby gorilla named Colo entered the world at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio, becoming the first-ever gorilla born in captivity. Weighing in at approximately 4 pounds, Colo, whose name is a combination of Columbus and Ohio, was the daughter of Millie and Mac, two gorillas captured in French Cameroon, Africa, who were brought to the Columbus Zoo in 1951. Before Colo’s birth, gorillas found at zoos were caught in the wild, often by brutal means. In order to capture a gorilla when it was young and therefore still small enough to handle, hunters frequently had to kill the gorilla’s parents and other family members. Gorillas are vegetarians whose only natural enemy is the humans who hunt them. On average, a gorilla lives to 35 years in the wild and 50 years in captivity.
When Colo was born, captive gorillas often never learned parenting skills from their own parents in the wild, so the Columbus Zoo built a nursery and she was reared by zookeepers. In the years since Colo’s arrival, zookeepers developed habitats that simulate a gorilla’s natural environment and many captive-born gorillas are now raised by their mothers. In situations where this doesn’t work, zoos have created surrogacy programs, in which the infants are briefly cared for by humans and then handed over to other gorillas to raise.
Colo, who generated enormous public interest and is still alive today, went on to become a mother, grandmother, and in 1996, a great-grandmother to Timu, the first surviving infant gorilla conceived by artificial insemination. Timu gave birth to her first baby in 2003.
Today, there are approximately 750 gorillas in captivity around the world and an estimated 100,000 lowland gorillas (and far fewer mountain gorillas) remaining in the wild. Most zoos now have breeding programs and have agreed not to buy gorillas born in the wild. Since Colo’s birth, 30 gorillas have been born at the Columbus Zoo alone. How wonderful that she is celebrating her birthday and is still with us!
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: While it is a myth that stress can turn hair gray, stress can cause hair loss. In fact, telogen effluvium (hair loss) can begin up to three months after a stressful event. (I think my cousin, Gene Johnston, may have lost his hair stressing out over how much more handsome I am than he!)