Joyeux Noel

image by Rob Wanenchak

Five-thousand million years ago, this earth lay heaving in a mass of rocks and fire
Wasting, burdened with its emptiness
Tonight, when arthropods and worms and sponges have given way to dinosaurs
And dinosaurs to working, wandering 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
And 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 Jesus
For those who have known darkness
Who have now seen a wondrous 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 peels 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

– John F. Dean

“So three men from the recovery house next door help him to his feet,walk him to the halfway house and put him in the shower. They wash his clothes and shoes and give him their things to wear while he waits. They give him coffee and dinner, and they give him respect. I talked to these other men later, and even though they had very little sobriety, they did not cast this other guy off for not being well enough to be there. Somehow this broken guy was treated like one of them, because they could see that he was one of them. No one was pretending he wasn’t covered with shit, but there was a real sense of kinship. And that is what we mean when we talk about grace.

“Back at the meeting at the Episcopal Cathedral, I was just totally amazed by what I had seen. And I had a little shred of hope. I couldn’t have put it into words, but until that meeting, I had thought that I would recover with men and women like myself; which is to say, overeducated, fun to be with and housebroken. And that this would happen quickly and efficiently. But I was wrong. So I’ll tell you what the promise of Advent is: It is that God has set up a tent among us and will help us work together on our stuff. And this will only happen over time.

“For you, Crabby Miss, and for me; together, over time.”

Anne Lamott

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