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  • Writer's pictureAnna Bonnema

The Milk Grotto

We left the Church of the Nativity and stepped out into the bright sunshine. It was a few minute walk through winding, narrow streets with the Muslim call to prayer echoing off the stone buildings, to the Milk Grotto. The holy family would not likely have been able to stay in the borrowed and already full place where Jesus was born. However, they would not have been able to travel right away, so it is believed that they would have found a nearby cave where they could rest and gain strength for their next journey. As we descended into the grotto, the cool quiet enveloped me. The contrast to the chaos of the Church of the Nativity was stark, while that was busy and chaotic, this was quiet and peaceful. The many icons of the nursing mama Mary immediately connected to my heart. This. This is where this young family likely spent those first sleepless, hazy, newborn nights. Endless feedings, walking, rocking, shhhh-ing. Maybe some whispered fears. Possibly tears of awe and wonder. This place was one of the most holy of the pilgrimage for me because this is where the humanity of the holy family connects with every family on earth. Where sweat, tears and milk mixed with holiness. On the feast of the holy family we are invited to connect with the humanity of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus. We are invited to rest with them in the grotto of our hearts as we all prepare to move forward into the year.


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