December 24, 2008

Hanukkah Candles on Christmas Eve

for Justine

Throughout the night, the cold drew close,
And wrapped our home in shrouds of frost.
Within, four candles lent us light,
Returning to us what was lost.

Around us, all our village slept.
Our children safe, their breathing slow.
Four candles gleamed beside the tree,
Their flames burned long, burned low.

Then all fell silent round my house.
The snow shown blue, the shadows, slate.
You could almost hear the planet turn.
I stood bereft beside my gate.

Behind me, those I loved slept warm,
Protected by God's endless grace.
Below me lay the village streets,
Clad in shadow's chill embrace.

The darkness waned, the morning loomed,
Within my house the fire grew bright.
But still I walked on fragile snow,
And prayed for greater light.

As a child I'd lived in dreams of stars,
Of peace on Earth --life's golden seal--
And this night seemed, of all our nights,
The one when all such dreams were real.

Tonight I know this is not so.
The world is not as we would wish,
But as we make it, day by day,
And this the mystery and the gift.

The candles whisper of His gift.
The stars reflect them high above.
The gift is given to us again,
That we remember how to love.

-- Mill Hill Drive, Southport, Connecticut, 1990

Posted by Vanderleun at December 24, 2008 1:37 AM
Bookmark and Share



"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Nice. Here's my favorite:

Driving to Midnight Mass on Dublin Christmas Eve
by John F. Dean

Five-thousand million years ago, this earth lay heaving in a mass of rocks and fire
Wasting, burdened with its emptiness
Tonight, when anthropods and worms and sponges have given way to dinosaurs
And dinosaurs to working, wondering apes
Homo erectus have given way to sapiens, and he to
Homo sapiens sapiens (alias Paddy Mack)

Look down on Dublin from the hills around
Them lights could be a million Christmas trees
Still firs standing, while in the sky a glow as if of dawn
This day a light shall shine on us
The Lord is born within our city

Look along to the river toward O'Connell Bridge
The lights, the neon signs, all stream on water like breathed-on strips of tinsel
All is still...

Eleven-thirty, pubs begin to empty
Men stop to argue, sway and say the name of Jaysus
For those who have known darkness
Who have now seen a wonderous light
Those who have dwelt on unlit streets
To them the light has come

Tonight few cars go by
The blocks of flats with windowed plastic trees
And fairy lights stand, watching for a miracle
Here are no dells where fairies might appear

Out from the dark an ambulance comes speeding
Sickly blue lights search in siren-still
The mystery of the night ticks slowly on
It will pass and leave memories of friends and small half-welcomed things

In Him was life
In Him life was the light of man
For neither prehistoric swans nor trilobites, the mesozoic birds
Neanderthal nor modern man had ever dreamt or seen what was our God

The shops are gay with lights and bright things
All save funeral homes, they dare not advertise their presence
As midnight peals and organs start to play
Two cars meet headlong in a haze of drink
The crash flicks into silence
Pain crawls like a slime through blood and into limbs
God is revealed, a baby naked, crying in a crib

In the church porches and out along the grounds
Teenagers laugh and swear, smokin', watchin' girls
So once more Christmas trails away
Its meaning moves back into the mist and the march of time

Posted by: growler at December 21, 2006 7:13 PM

To vanderleun and growler,

Thank you both very much! And, a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Yours in Christ,


Posted by: Bob Sykes at December 22, 2007 2:52 PM

Merry Christmas, Gerard!

Posted by: Fausta at December 25, 2007 6:59 AM

That is so beautiful! Thank you for posting that.


Posted by: Deana at December 24, 2008 8:07 AM

...and a merry Christmas to you too, Gerard!

- Pete

Posted by: pete at December 24, 2008 11:11 AM

no maccabees, then no jews.

no jews, then no jesus.

Posted by: danny at December 24, 2008 12:04 PM