The rocks were supposed to be the easy part. I've been working on them for weeks now. The latest problem is with the rock floor of the manger. If you look at previous iterations of this icon, you can see how a horizontal ground feature gradually turned into a chasm in the manger floor. The Holy Bible doesn't talk about the Three Wise Men falling into a trench when they come to visit the infant Christ. Steve, my instructor, suggested that I should paint a gold crown and a box of frankincense next to the cliff edge where they would have been dropped by the stumbling Magi, and I could also have Mary and Joseph passing down a rope to rescue them. Maybe also the top of a ladder, with the shepherd boy climbing up as well. So: one of those precarious high-perch mangers complete with bottomless pit features.
The idea of writing an icon is to bring praise to God, much like a prayer or a hymn. Maybe a good icon will shave off a few hours in Purgatory. Dumping the entire visitation entourage down an infinite cenote in the middle of Bethlehem seems to be earning me another 10,000 years in Gehenna, though. At least I don't have to draw them, so there's a positive right there.