O LORD, sheer joy with you, Israel, in exile Homeward bound From among a people of strange tongue Gone forth in sheer joy
Shouting Hallelujah! Out of Egypt have I gone forth with you, True and Faithful by name In sheer Joy!
How heavy the moment Is with eternity, Lord Jesus, Yet each flows after the other Like water escaping The hand that captures The eyes that see The thoughts that would knot Them into a jeweled chain To be adorned not as memory But as presence
Cradled birth, my life in your hands: Tenderly kept as shepherd with lamb Hurrying at angelic proclamations of peace Heavens ringing hallelujahs Your delight brooding over the waters Breaking over this new life, moments Spirit-born
When come the magi bearing each — On a camel fresh out of the box Of ornaments and sweet scents Frankincense and myrrh unpacked — Mystery like knots unraveling sheer
Joy, O Lord! You give each new Moment flowing rapidly bringing you Nearer, sheer joy as I await the Long-awaited coming in sheer joy!
Her eyes are busy with light Though I worry her with my doubts There are candles in picture windows Flirty love ballads on stereos Ivy stabbed with holly Santas under mistletoe And I can’t get enough of the night.
Her eyes are busy with light Though I fear her faith is naïve Government thugs surveil, killing with drones Children trafficked in towns, families ripped Credit flows lucre between banks into pockets Drugs dull, cocktails insensitize till we all go aground And I burrow into the darkness of the night.
Her eyes are busy with light Her hopes against my fears She doesn’t see weakness in a babe in a manger She doesn’t see defeat in a man on a cross She doesn’t see what I see in a handful of dust When the devil comes calling to offer a favor And I run like the dickens to add to my scars.
O Winter, O Church Bells, O Dawn of revelation! Would I could see her Savior, hear hallelujahs Know what it feels like to know darkness conquered Have peace and contentment, courage in the fight To overthrow temptations and to laugh at my weakness With Christ as my Brother, crying ‘Abba! Father!” And wordless prayers by the Spirit means I’m not alone.
In such a heart as mine, O Father, enter in In such a world as mine, O Christ, enter in In such a darkness as this, O Spirit, enter in Your call I hear above the noise Your love for me over unbelief overflows Before I can seek You, God, You have sought me To save and to keep me eternally in You.
My eyes are busy with His Light My life is bursting with His Life My weakness melts in His Strength The darkness dispersed by His Word The pain we bear makes me aware That God suffered in His flesh To deliver us from death And, hallelujah, our eyes are busy with Light!
[Jesus said,] “If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
This is not a show Don’t let it fool you This baby escaped a tyrant’s slaughter Not a carpet of flowers
Jesus knew hummus before kosher At Egyptian tables to eat (Rimbaud yawns!) These wise visitors bore gifts for an exile Oh glorious! for the King of kings
We beg/steal/borrow tv Santa’s wigs Play jolly, play Marley’s ghost Turn engines of Christmas to erupt Merry, when Jesus was born for sorrow.
Count His bones on the tree, no beauty This mother will see, only a sword piercing From cross to myrrh-anointed shroud
An ocean, an ocean of darkness to bear A birthday for a Man whose death will be the death of Death Erupt in hallelujah! Turn nuns into acrobats!
This is not a show Don’t let it fool you This baby escaped a tyrant’s slaughter Not spring weather on a tapestry
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned–every one–to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Shay/Fireblossom's "Word Garden Word List #5 (Gregory Corso)"
"What we do here is this: write a poem using at least 3 of the twenty words on the following list. Your poem need not have anything to do with Corso except for the three (or more) words. The list is a springboard."
Unlooked for. You were unlooked for. Unhoped for. You were unhoped for. Where I was You were not. Where You were I was not. Sudden. Then. It was sudden. Not the shuddering of wings, not of swan. Angels watched. Unwatched for. What are you looking at? Put ‘em back, your hallelujahs. Because I’m a mess. A blubbering mess. Mess of sticky goo, sin. Call it what you will. It was painful, this birth. This death. At twenty. A resurrection in You. In You. In You. In You. I can’t get over You. I can’t get over You. You know me through and through. You know me through and through. You swaddled me not in a manger. You fed me at Your breast Your Holy Spirit milk. You hid me in Egypt. You found me at Jacob’s well. You suffer me a cross to bear You bore it as well. For me. For me. You birthed me. You loved me. It’s not a fluke of biology this Light as in Damascus. This Love, this Light, this manger this cross, this thorny crown this night, this life over which this darkness cannot roll. This Love is Light is mine.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. … The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 1:1-5, 9-13
Grace at dVerse asks us to write either in the form of Kwansaba or write a poem of blessing or praise in the style of David Whyte. Click on Mr. Linky and join us for the last meeting of 2021 at the dVerse bar.
Image credit: Photo by Andre Moura from pexels
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
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)
Donna's Go Dog Go Cafe’s Inaugural Haibun Wednesday
Eugi's Weekly Prompt: "notable"
From childhood I’ve led a nomadic life, then thankfully settled down for a while after my marriage; but due to varied pressures over the last dozen years or so, we found ourselves moving not once, not twice, but four times!
Let slip the dogs of war, cry ‘Havoc!’1 My life is in boxes. Taped wounds reopen. Something’s lost, new scars of the march Mark rosewood and disquiet heart, Chipping tall glasses into which descanted Expectations contain shards. I swallow
To survive. Patience. There is no end to it. Nothing is ever put away in just the right place As it was before, or ever after. A life’s exhumations, Dislocated. Some funerary remains stay buried mysteries, Supernumerary or symptoms of malaise. Diagnosis: Lassitude. The patient’s surgical cut unanesthetized
Comes at Christmas, when more than one treasured Ornament is missed, or smashed, glitter powder, a crack On Nutcracker chin. His stout smile now on my face. Shrugging away another casualty. The clock chimes. There are cookies in the oven in the new-not-new
Kitchen where cups and saucers rotate from shelf To shelf to find a home. The doorbell rings. I prepare my bravado. Hopeful eyes meet mine, A Christmas tree on slim shoulders, angelic annunciation To their father’s bemused smile. Now a certain
Cavalcade of the heart, benediction of wise men’s gold Escaping boxes, escaping from what was To what is. Another Egypt. Another promised land. Father Abraham. Mother Sarah. Tents folded Unfolded. Tinsel time like tinsel tears shimmer past. Frankincense and myrrh. My life by blood covenant, Thine.
1“The military order ‘Havoc!’ was a signal given to the English military forces in the Middle Ages to direct the soldiery (in Shakespeare’s parlance ‘the dogs of war’) to pillage and chaos. The ‘let slip’ is an allusion to the slip collars that were used to restrain dogs and were easily ‘let slip’ to allow the dogs to run and hunt.”
Image credit: Michael Whelan, "Lights," acrylic on watercolor board, 1991
I'm guest-hosting today at dVerse "Poetics: Epiphany in the Time of Holiday," where we will write on what an epiphany during this holiday season would look like for us (or someone we know or imagine). An epiphany, writes critic X. J. Kennedy, is 'some moment of insight, discovery, or revelation by which a character’s life, or view of life, is greatly altered.' Epiphany is from the Greek, epiphainein, “to show forth.” (James Joyce, for example, describes epiphanies in everyday life, using stream-of-consciousness in “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” mixing memories, associations, moral/ideological/religious issues.) Click on Mr. Linky and join in!
I stand at the well at the desert’s end the camels noisy at the trough there’s the star blazing above me the night sky distraught with light. I, looking down as into a mirror, drawn to the abyss below.
The star grows preternaturally, soundless my cries echo it close, spilling embittered tears, so might the well’s bounds overflow, now the journey has been for nothing my hopes and fears for naught.
This cankered sore that my heart is this cauled face, disfigured husk, what the worldly-wise has given birth to, I sag to my knees and howl: there is no sorrow as impenetrable as knowing the road you’ve followed in the end was all a mirage.
Even as death hangs o’er me an eternal vision belies it; alone I stand under starlight alone I gaze at the night this wanderer as foolish as a beast wondering that the yawning darkness had not overtaken the light.
If birth is but a prelude to death what if death is the prelude to life? Here, across trackless sands following a star as bright as the morning shines to watch over me in the night; bemused I lift my eyes up to see a distant rise, there to see a babe born who set the star in the skies.
December came with grim aplomb, and I in hiding From screaming carts down shopping aisles, the alarming Wreaths with fragrant graveside cheer, and Marley unchained, Playing false, outdone by someone else’s fireside hearth And ham and pudding and drinks strung out like cards Upon a fraying thread and skewers of mercilessly toasted goodwill
Somewhere a child cries, silence falls, and sputtering, the eruptions Begin again until the wearied season dies a strangled death Of colored lights.
I am no Scrooge to cry “Humbug!” and gladly would the season Cheer but that the ghosts of Christmases past have failed to melt The stony heart, have instead encased it in icy blasts that speak Of days unwarmed by hope that some in Bethlehem’s manger found. I would so look to find, so tread the pew-filled aisles, so fly open The holy script to reveal a silent night divine to my own gaze.
But I’ll see you on a cold-eyed morn in haste to greet the darkness With merry cheer. It avails you scarce goodwill from me or mine. Such holy fear as gripped the hillside night two thousand years ago, When men were abuzz with the angel-heralded news of a Savior born, This holy fear, this unfettered joy I would discover one glorious endless dawn.
John 3:16-21 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
It’s been two days since the first Sunday in Advent, so it’s not too late to share once again a video series of short daily reflections that I found to be a cornerstone of family devotions one past Christmas season and whose benefits, I believe you will find, linger through the year.
The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics has put out a series of daily reflections for advent which provide a beautifully meditative context for our individual prayers and reflection. Each medit…
Already Christmas lights are blurring in the afterglow
of gifts spilled in haste on to waiting hands below
the ribboned paper and dainty bows caparisoned
like a king’s treasure to tease even from cynics a frisson
She was dead she thought
The leaves gone gray with frostbite
Fullness of life pinched like the last rays
Of twilight and the seed rotten
In the grave of her heart where it lay
Thick corpse unlooked for, unhoped for.
Then the recrudescence of the unseen cloaked –
Birth pains preceded by incredulous laughter
Behind three visitors, welcome yet sorely
Testing her faith that after all these years
The barren belly and breasts hanging loose
Like the flaps of Abraham’s tent would swell
With child and milk and passion flailing
In her arms in cries of longing.
Still yet would the muted prayers of her heart
Confuse a blind priest and escape like drunken speech
From a spirit overburdened with years of enduring
Whispers interspersed with “poor Hannah”
And taunts hastily stifled between pursed lips
Escape the earth to a listener in the heavens
Beneath the frozen stare of endless reeling stars.
Oh, birth that fell upon the girl betrothed twice:
First to the gallant, plainspoken carpenter by trade
Then to the shame that lay as heavy upon her as the child
Ripening within, immortal Savior, promised to a broken remnant
Who had almost ceased to believe their barren vineyard –
Stripped, plundered, bruised under heel of pharisee and emperor –
Would find its fruit at last in the promised seed of God
Eternal hid here in the virgin’s bespoken womb!
Now to ready the still beating heart beneath the flesh
That spawns decay, loss, grief, hate, pain and misery
Unbroken by relentless time, but that time itself stoops
To enter into a stable wherein lies a gurgling babe,
The hope of every longing heart
The joy of bright expectant eyes
The peace of life newborn where once there was none
Now in this advent of his return.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics has put out a series of daily reflections for advent which provide a beautifully meditative context for our individual prayers and reflection. Each meditation begins with a passage of scripture read by David Suchet and then a five-minute exposition by Amy Orr-Ewing which places the scripture within the framework of God’s unfolding design of salvation. The reflections “dwell on God’s preparation of people and events in history, which made the incarnation possible,” with the focus being on how God works in chronos time to achieve his kairos purpose, the coming of the Messiah, Christ Jesus. The introductory video does a good job of explaining the Biblical use of the two Greek words for time, chronos/kairos, kairos being used by the New Testament writers to “communicate the idea of God’s time; it is eternal reality breaking into the now.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” …. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2:13-14, 20)
Well. Here it is: the day after Christmas. I don’t know about you but the day after Christmas is when you get back to “real life” and its mundane details and there’s the news as usual, mostly bad as usual, and the afterglow of celebration fades into the incessant strife and violence borne of hatred between peoples, and sickness and warfare and want continue unimpeded.
Hallelujah! Merry Christmas to all my wonderful readers and fellow bloggers! On this Christmas morn, take time to reflect on the the great mystery of the incarnation, the magnum mysterium, and praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who sent His Son as light to conquer the darkness of sin and death.
Christmas. My Lord and my Brother’s birthday. The day God came into the world wrapped in the flesh of a newborn babe.
He wasn’t born into that blissful scene you see on holiday cards. It was most probably in the dark little hillside stable of a one-room house built over a limestone cave, the cave functioning as the stable which one would enter at street level in the crowded town of Bethlehem. There was a manger filled with straw and that would be His first bed.
The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics has put out a series of daily reflections for advent which provide a beautifully meditative context for our individual or family prayers and devotions. Each meditation begins with a passage of scripture read by David Suchet and then a five-minute exposition by Amy Orr-Ewing which places the scripture within the framework of God’s unfolding design of salvation. The reflections “dwell on God’s preparation of people and events in history, which made the incarnation possible,” with the focus being on how God works in chronos time to achieve his kairos purpose, the coming of the Messiah, Christ Jesus. The introductory video does a good job of explaining the Biblical use of the two Greek words for time, chronos/kairos, kairos being used by the New Testament writers to “communicate the idea of God’s time; it is eternal reality breaking into the now.”