Christmas Night

On that night,

The shaman looked out at the endless grass,

To frosty stars; wondering in heart, he said:

“The spirits are still and silent tonight,

For good and not for hurt.”

 

On that night,

A maid in red and gold and henna decked

Leapt up in joy as music sounded near,

Her sister calling with a trembling voice:

“At last, your bridegroom comes!”

 

On that night,

The teenage shepherdess, in fragrant fields

Of mountain pastures, caught a labouring ewe,

And she delivered into warm soft hay,

A single, spotless lamb.

 

In that dawn,

The watchman of an Oriental town,

A town beleaguered beyond help or hope,

Cried out in joy at the far distant sight,

“Our King is come to save!”

 

Cherry Foster

 

Angus Dei, wikipedia commons photo credit Victoria Edwards, copyright to attribution
Angus Dei. Source: Wikipedia Commons; Photo Credit: Victoria Edwards.

Theodicy

480px-Flight_Into_Egypt_1923_Henry_Ossawa_Tanner
The Flight into Egypt, Henry Ossawa Tanner.  Photo from Wikimedia Commons

 

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.

 

450px-Strängnäs_Dom_-_Hochaltar_-_Ungläubiger_Thomas
Strängnäs cathedral, Sweden. 16th century High altar – St. Thomas meets the Risen Christ.       Photo Credit: Wolfgang Sauber.  (See https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Str%C3%A4ngn%C3%A4s_Dom_-_Hochaltar_-_Ungl%C3%A4ubiger_Thomas.jpg)

 

With best wishes to all readers for Christmas 2018 – may you enjoy a happy and edifying festive season… 😀

Cherry Foster