• Neil Allen

Why I love to Display Nativities

30,000 visitor later Neil Allen July, 2019

My "Baby" 1950's era Nativity from Ecuador

People often ask me, "WHERE DO YOU KEEP ALL OF THESE?" As if "keeping" them was a big deal. I describe the small space we pack them in, but they just look at my as if the cheese slid off my cracker. It takes a bit of doing, but we've been a traveling display for nearly 30 years and have experienced more than 30,000 visitors.

"Where do you keep all of these?"

Actually, if they were really concerned, they would ask about my shed that stores the wooden structure I use to confine the space, and cut down on walking all over the church answering questions.

My Method

The display is 42' wide. The top shelf starts at 6' and the lower shelves (yes, where little hands can reach!) are only 24" from the ground.

The display allows me to slide back and forth answering questions, such as, "ARE THESE ALL YOURS?" I usually answer with something like, "Welcome to my addiction. Do you think I need therapy?"

Once people get by the scope of the collection, I can usually tell them stories that connect with what they are seeing. "Where is that one from?" is a lead in question that allows me to answer the immediate question and ask one in return, "Did you notice their eyes, or hands?" I pull forward some portion of the imagery and begin to explain what I see, or what I've learned over the years.

It's the interaction that makes the display set up work fade quickly away. People become open to the presence of "God" or have "Spiritual" events that deepen their understanding.

It that holy engagement that keeps me sharing these nativities. I will probably keep doing this until I can't lift the staging boards.

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