Away in a Manger and the Power of Knowing
The first Noelle knew something in her world was changing was not the sight of mistletoe, sounds of Christmas carols or the ka-ching, ka-ching of festive sales, but the teeny, tiny wriggly sensations that came from deep within her burgeoning tummy.
Heeding this call, the gentle sow knew just what she had to do – to seek a manger to birth her piglets. Coming up short of a safe and secure one, Noelle had to settle for a tiny, disused tin shed on what appeared to be an abandoned farm.
With no sticks, twigs, branches or grass tufts to make a nest, Noelle used her piggy smarts to fashion one, as best she could, from the rolls of industrial fabric she found. But, alas, it was a poor second best, and on cold concrete she hunkered down. Contrasting these inhospitable surroundings was her warm and soft belly, to which each of her eight tiny piglets would knowingly gravitate.
But this was no place for a new mumma and her brood to safely be.
Knowing this was the human who the universe had guided to be there at just the right time. Drawn to the tiny window of the makeshift manger by the cheery grunts of Noelle as she busily prepared her maternity room. Peering inside, nothing could have prepared them for the sight they found.
However, by listening to their heart, they knew just what they had to do.
And then so did we.
“Let mother nature take her course, for she knows just what to do,” we offered. Assuredly adding, “We’ll be with you shortly.”
With our knowledge of the fierce love mumma pigs have for their babies guiding our next move, each velvety one was ferried to our straw-filled float. All done under the watchful eye of Noelle, who marched stoically along with us all.
And we could not help but think she knew we came in peace and would cause no harm to her treasured babies.
What happened next was truly magical, and flies in the face of the pig industry’s dogmatic statement that mumma pigs are so derelict in their role they will crush their piglets.
Nosing about in the straw for just the right place to lie, Noelle’s snout found what she thought was the perfect spot. But, as she began to lay down, the squeaking of one little wayward piglet told her not so. Noelle was then quickly to her trotters and snouting the little one out of the way, revisiting her place to lie. Offering a “nff nff” of satisfaction, her body softly descended, concertina-like, to her perfectly fashioned nest.
Once she had comfortably nestled her body into the straw, dear Noelle’s dulcet tones summoned to her kids it was time to tuck in. Singing softly to them all the while as they did. The sight of seven cherub-like pink piglets and a little black and pink one, all vying for a teat, which they would soon claim as their own, was a Christmas joy beyond compare. And it more than compensated for our late-night dash.
And as if that wasn’t enough delight, the knowledge that Noelle and her babies will be safe forever, most certainly is.
Fast forward to today and having the privilege to watch this loving mumma with her babies, watching her teach them important life lessons, watching the bubbas play with wanton abandon as all children do, invites a moment of reflection as we unwrap the true meaning of Christmas. One that was birthed inside a tiny manger, one that sits beyond shopping sprees and material gifts, one that transcends religion, one that can reach inside and touch our core, and one whose knowing has the power to change us all – the greatest gift we can ever give is to be kinder and more compassionate to one and all.
Footnote – in honour of the festive season the piglets have been so named: Christ Mas, Chris Cross, Chris Tian, Chris Tina, Chris Telle, Chris Tanne, Chris Ee and Chris Sandra.
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