Posted by on Dec 22, 2010 in Film | 13 comments

 

 Hand copy


A Christmas Card

by Thomas Merton

When the white stars talk together like sisters 
And when the winter hills 
Raise their grand semblance in the freezing night, 
Somewhere one window 
Bleeds like the brown eye of an open force.

Hills, stars, 
White stars that stand above the eastern stable.

Look down and offer Him. 
The dim adoring light of your belief.
Whose small Heart bleeds with infinite fire.

Shall not this Child 
(When we shall hear the bells of His amazing voice) 
Conquer the winter of our hateful century?

And when His Lady Mother leans upon the crib, 
Lo, with what rapiers 
Those two loves fence and flame their brilliancy!

Here in this straw lie planned the fires 
That will melt all our sufferings: 
He is our Lamb, our holocaust!

And one by one the shepherds, with their snowy feet, 
Stamp and shake out their hats upon the stable dirt, 
And one by one kneel down to look upon their Life.

 

I usually take the naysayers' rants and cuts in stride; I know  full well it seems crazy to  believe in what cannot be comprehended with our finite minds.  Yesterday, however, I heard on the radio a comedian mock with breezy irreverence the virgin birth of Christ and I was surprised by my own strong internal response of not anger, but sadness.  I cannot imagine approaching Christmas, or any other moment in my life for that matter, detached from faith in Eternity and in the consistency of God's unbiased mercy. Along with the privilege of our free will  come some  inevitable and heartbreaking consequences, including abuse, manipulation and a misunderstanding of the Truth. This season elicits such a variety of emotions as we are confronted once again by the manger containing God in the flesh. For some of us the Nativity evokes joy, hope, peace - for others disgust, resentment, indifference.

I get chills when I  read the above poem:

Here in this straw lie planned the fires 
That will melt all our sufferings: 
He is our Lamb, our holocaust!

And one by one the shepherds, with their snowy feet, 
Stamp and shake out their hats upon the stable dirt, 
And one by one kneel down to look upon their Life.

 It's not my job, as one on my knees in awe of the God-man miracle unfolding among us,  to convince anyone of anything. It's not up to me to heal the damage brought on by tragedy, or  skewed interperations of the Gospel. It would be foolish to imagine I could ever make perfect sense of the Mystery that is salvation. No, I am  not the Holy Spirit,  who alone is capable of enlightening our darkened reasonings. I have but one responsibility on this Feast of Christ's birth: to be bold as the shepherds, the angels, the wisemen in living out my humble gratitude and amazement, loving everyone (because I am loved) all willy nilly, regardless of their scars and mine. This Christmas, with so much competing for my attention,  with so much effort put forth to muffle the meaning behind the carols played in shopping malls and grocery stores, I'll need the Church to guide me like a star back to the stable.

One of my favorite hymns we'll sing is:

"What shall we present unto Thee, O Christ,
For Thy coming to earth for us men?
Each of Thy creatures brings Thee a thank-offering:
The angels — singing; the heavens — a star;
The Wise Men — treasures; the shepherds devotion;
The earth — a cave; the desert — a manger;
But we offer Thee the Virgin-Mother. O Eternal God, have mercy upon us".

Isn't that just gorgeous? 

It's almost time.

POETRY WEDNESDAY