I invite you to look at this jubilant scene of the very first Christmas-- here with Maryam, Yusef, the baby Isa and the traveling wise men, also known as the Magi*:
It was painted by the celebrated modern Iranian Christian artist Hossein Behzad (1894 - 1968). Highly respected by Christian and Muslim fans alike, he is known for blending both Eastern and Western influences while leaving a "Persian flavor" intact.
What do I love about the picture? The fluid lines, the live, luscious colors, the spontaneous wonder on every expression—where each body leans in unconscious attention, each eye falls on the baby in tender delight. A setting where strangers become an intimate circle.
I mean—if you'd been around and had stumbled upon them, wouldn't you also feel welcome to join them?
P.S.: It is true that the majority of Iranian residents are of Islamic heritage; this I knew before I met my husband Mahmoud. What I did not know was that while Islam does not teach that Jesus (Isa) is the son of God, it does present Jesus as a great and beloved prophet, born of a blessed virgin named Mary (Maryam)—as captured in the joyful depiction above.
* Finally: I am not studied enough to verify the claims some scholars make that (at least one of) the Magi were ethnically Persian. But I do find it lovely that my husband's family in Iran seems to take pride in that suggestion!
Thank you, All Readers! May this season be just what each of you needs it to be.
Dr. Leslie Ahmadi discovered her intercultural calling in her parents’ home at age four--where between the jazz, the spirituals, and the rock ‘n roll music, she heard folk songs in languages from around the world. Thirty years later she had a doctorate in foreign language and culture education--and her folk song guitar never far away.