Christmas is grievous when in doubt, and I,
More wretched than I knew, did doubt.
Glittering tinsel and fairy lights,
Deathless ever-green and baubles bright,
Seemed but the pressing of a greater dark:
A gruesome mask to gild the face of death.
Weary, I threw myself across a chair,
The magnolia armchair of my childhood home,
Where once, beneath the Christmas tree’s green arms,
I curled, reading children’s stories of the works of God.
I would not now fit, either to the space,
Nor to the easy credence I had then.
What power has birth o’er death, or God
To alter all the bitter doom of man,
Half victim and half guilty of this web of grief?
I looked up, up at the bright enamelled crib,
Little resin figures cast by my Great-Aunt,
Painted by children’s fingers, painted rough but bright.
All sweetness and serene serenity.
And beneath, a newspaper carelessly cast down.
“Troubles in Palestine”, “A family flees”, a photograph;
The mother stood aside, hands pressed to face,
Their infant son held in his father’s arms,
Staring stunned from that security insecure.
Behind them their home burned.
I lifted up my eyes, to where the little Kings
Their perilous migration, day by day,
Along the mantelpiece were making,
With prophecy of glory and with instant doom
Of Herod’s eye and hand against the child divine.
How soon the stable’s shelter, fragile warmth, enough,
Becomes the horror of a panicked flight,
How soon that flight a death – but death transformed,
Overthrown and destroyed by the Creator’s love.
Let the light come.
Of mortality itself our hope is made,
Out of the dark a remedy has been fashioned.
To the cross is the Creator nailed,
Hope appears from the tomb.
The power that reigns in heaven
Flees murder, swaddled in his mother’s arms.
Helpless in the manger,
Life lies adorned with a fragile mask of death.
What love is this, that no easy answer takes
To transform our sorrow by thy grief divine
Impassible to suffer and immortal die?
Hadst thou more in measure given, dear my Lord,
I would have sooner thee believed.
With best wishes to all readers for Christmas 2018 – may you enjoy a happy and edifying festive season… 😀