What Child Is This? (A Haibun)

Aristotle wrote that women are incomplete men. I was raised on this with my mother’s milk. What is a girl when your firstborn could have been a boy. In my mother’s eyes, shame. In my father’s, disappointment, shame. Flawless would be a boy. Flawed would be me.

Christmas with a baby at the center just turned up the drollery of fate. Each year’s gift whispered, “Be a man. Someone notable. Do that for us and we will love you.” How unkind to have only a girl child to celebrate the birth of a King!

What child is this? Daddy asks. Mummy echoes, What child is this?

I ask, Dear God, What Child is this?

“What Child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?”1

Now Christmas comes to a woman whose hair is thinning, whose hands and feet are deformed with disease, whose gait is slow, whose back is bent. Not under the weight of shame. She sees the One in the manger born and wonders that Love came down into the muck of a world where children cry themselves to sleep and no one hears or cares. Jesus, You came a long way. And so did I with You.

This, this One died lonely
tree-hung to save a girl child
from pitiless hands

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

Philippians 2:5-11
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

1What Child Is This?

What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping,
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping?

(Refrain)This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary!

Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce him through,
The Cross be borne for me, for you;
Hail, hail the Word Made Flesh,
The babe, the son of Mary!

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh;
Come, peasant, king, to own Him!
The King of Kings salvation brings;
Let loving hearts enthrone Him!

Raise, raise the song on high!
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy! joy! for Christ is born,
The babe, the son of Mary!

William Chatterton Dix, “What Child Is This?” (1865)
“What Child is This” – Violinist: Lindsey Stirling
Donna's Go Dog Go Cafe’s Inaugural Haibun Wednesday
Eugi's Weekly Prompt: "notable"

43 thoughts on “What Child Is This? (A Haibun)

  1. Oh Dora, how my heart resonates with the child that Jesus came to give life anew, I sure did need it in so many ways…so very thankful!!!✝️🛐💯‼️❤💙🧡💚 So many reasons to give thanks as I bow before His feet! Blessings to you today, dear Sister!

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  2. This stung to read and I pray you know that you are beautiful, Dora. So thankful there will be a day when we receive a resurrected glorified body that hurts and suffers no more and we will see our King in His Beauty. Praise Jesus for the value He gives women.

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  3. fireblossom32

    I was hoping this was “writing in character”, but gather that it is true and that just cracks my heart, girl.It seems to me I recall a bible passage that says something along the lines of this: before we are man or woman, slave or free, we are spirit. In any event, to scorn a child is a special kind of cold that I can’t even imagine.
    I want to share with you a vivid dream I had some years ago, during a particularly hard time in my life. I dreamed I was crouched at the edge of a precipice, sitting sideways, dirty and in rags, and I thought, “All I have to do is tip over the edge and it can all be over.” Then I saw a man coming toward me out of the distance, walking across a wasteland to get to me. he was some kind of workman, wearing a tool belt, and with a look as though he was used to labor and knew what he was about. He was very Christ-like in appearance, with the beard and long hair. He came and sat down facing me, and in his eyes I could see that he understood, really understood everything about me. The he picked up a jagged stone and started replicating all of my wounds on his own body. I was horrified and tried to stop him, but he raised a hand calmly without speaking and I understood that he knew what he was doing. He didn’t stop until he had all the same wounds as I did. He didn’t just understand me in some abstract way, he knew my experience right down to the bone, right down to the pain of it. The he dropped the stone and held out his hand to me. Somehow I knew that if I took it, I would never fall off the edge. I took it.
    I say all this to say that I understand your haibun. There is a song by David Mullen that I love that goes in part “Long before these foundations were laid, you were loved child, don’t give up, child!” I don’t consider my dream to have been just a dream at all. My life afterward has proved that.

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    1. Neither do I believe it a dream, Shay. A vision of a reality that needed to be impressed on you. Would you believe I experienced a vision of a very similar nature that absolutely disarmed my self-hatred and pain? How wonderful is the incarnate Son of God who came to set us free! Thank you, Shay, for sharing this. We are never alone, are we? ❤️🥰

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I found the Scripture passage you were referring to: Galatians 3:27-28
        “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

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    1. Love it!
      Ephesians 1:3-4
      “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love ….”
      I’m one of those who thinks there should be no period after “sight.” He chose us in love before the foundation/creation of the world. How marvelous is that! How humbling and filled with joy unspeakable!

      Here’s one I sing all the time.

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