The Night Visitor


This time of year, I kind of switch gears and get away from the mountain bike, and transition to skiing,running trails, or hauling out the snowshoes. I have always been a runner at night in the winter and it is a solitary pursuit whether running around the lake in our local park, or running trails.img_1227 I am not anti-social this time of year, but it is nice to go out at night with the headlamp and spend some time by myself. I enjoy my own company. I talk to myself. Sometimes I get answers. It gives me time to think and to enjoy the winter weather. There is nothing like a run with the softly falling snow accompanied by my Pandora Christmas selections on the I-Phone. In the old days, it was the Sony Walkman with tapes. But I move ahead with technology- kicking and screaming. img_1232

There were many nights that I had the chance to contemplate Christmas and the true meaning of the birth of Christ. I always had fond memories of nativity scenes or the “creche” because of a wonderful story that I watched as a kid- ” Amahl and the Night Visitors.” carnegie_presepio It was re-broadcasted in 1963 from its original 1951 production on the Hallmark Hall of Fame. Although the story is fictional with the shepherd boy and the Magi, the opera by Carlo Menotti was based on biblical truth. I was always fascinated with that production on TV and thought of it often when I would see a creche. Perhaps one of my favorite nativity scene locations was in the grove right near my run starting point at Stone Field in North Park. It was always nice to finish a run and walk up to the grove which was decorated by Allegheny County Parks and Recreation. The star was perched at the apex of the roof of the grove and the floor was coated with hay and the walls lined with hay bales. The Magi, the shepherds, the angels all were present with Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus. A brilliant display especially on cold, snowy, winter nights around Christmas time.

Looking at that scene at the end of a run was comforting to me and I noticed a lot of other runners, walkers, and hikers in the park making the trek up through the field to the grove. Children were amazed and even the dogs seemed to be silent in reverence to the serene scene in our county’s largest park. It has been several years since that nativity scene or creche has been present in that grove. As we all know, there is controversy about separation of church and state and due to nationally recognized litigation, the grove is now an empty, silent, space this time of year. img_1229

Now I am not one to get political or controversial on my blog at all. I also hold any opinions to myself on Facebook posts. But I must say that I miss that creche in the park and the wonderful job that the County did on the presentation each year in that grove. I also believe there are many people who feel the same way as I do. We miss it – that’s all. We are not here to debate the first amendment but rather reminisce on the nice feeling that was present on those winter nights at the end of a solitary, contemplative run. Christmas has many meanings to different people. For me it is a celebration of my faith and the wondrous miracle that took place 2000 years ago. I never see the creche as a graven image, but rather a reminder of the humility of Christ as He came among us.

So, I continue to run, in the solitary darkness. I watched the space shuttle soar overhead last night in the presence of hundreds of stars that can be seen from the darkness of our beautiful county park. For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I wish you a blessed time with your family and friends. Enjoy the season and thanks for reading.

Creche picture courtesy of Carnegie Museum.

7 thoughts on “The Night Visitor

  1. Janet says:

    A Good reminder to stop and admire the nativity whenever we see one! Nice Dear 🎄

  2. Jeff Morgan says:

    Happy holidays Pat

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Dave H says:

    *Good* one, Pat. Drove by Mt. Pleasant (PA’s) nativity today- which has been moved to a side street “due to (months-long) construction.” Older towns didn’t have the foresight to not put major utility lines through the middle of what used to be a wagon trail — now the main drag. The manger is still at Champion,PA church (across from USPS); attendants are missing for now.

  4. Pete Hilton says:

    Awesome Patrick- Merry Christmas!

  5. Dan Ros says:

    Thanks Pat. The same to you and your family.

    Merry Christmas.

    On Thu, Dec 22, 2016 at 11:14 AM, chroniclesofmccloskey wrote:

    > patmccloskey posted: ” This time of year, I kind of switch gears and get > away from the mountain bike, and transition to skiing,running trails, or > hauling out the snowshoes. I have always been a runner at night in the > winter and it is a solitary pursuit whether running arou” >

  6. Russel Davies says:

    Thanks for the great post Pat. BTW did you get up to Laurel Mtn yesterday? I did, the skiing was good and it was good to be back on the mountain. Regarding the absence of the Nativity Scene in North Park, I think it is high time that we as a society stop caving into those who want to abridge our right to freedom of expression of the religious views we hold because it “may” insult the sensibilities of those who hold different views.

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