Spiritual Life

A sacred barn becomes a metaphor for the universe God created

Melvin Adams
Melvin Adams

I have often wondered why God chose to come to earth in human form in a cold barn in the desert of the Middle East. For an answer I return in thoughts to my childhood on the high desert of Eastern Oregon.

I remember going out to our barn in winter to play in the straw pile and to hang out with the sheep, the cow, the horse and sparrows. It was a cold and quiet place in winter, but even though there was not a star overhead beaming a shaft of light to the barn like in Bethlehem, the Milky Way came down in the cold, clear night air — almost touchable over the barn.

Our barn was a sacred place. It was a habitat of warmth and life in a cold desert stretching hundreds of miles in every direction.

It was like a metaphor for the universe that God created — a universe mostly made of dark matter and dark energy with scarce life.

The barn was a simple place close to the earth and the focal point of a creative energy that is hard for me to explain. I think God chose a stable for Jesus because it was simple and unadorned, close to the light of a mysterious star and the home of animals.

In the spring our barn was used for a shearing shed for the flocks of sheep of the area. The sheep would go into the barn with dirty, black wool and after being sheared would come out pure white.

The shearers were a diverse lot of Klamath Indians, Irishmen and gypsies. This also is a metaphor — for the resurrection and community of us all brought about by Jesus.

The barn today is still there, but it has fallen to become a long pile of weathered timbers.

But like the birthplace of Jesus it still exudes a spiritual aura and holds a sacred place in my heart.

Melvin Adams is librarian and resident poet at Northwest United Protestant Church in Richland and a retired scientist. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email lluginbill@tricityherald.com.