Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Luke 2:1-7

Now it happened that at this time Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be made of the whole inhabited world. This census-- the first -- took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to be registered, each to his own town. So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee for Judaea, to David's town called Bethlehem, since he was of David's House and line, in order to be registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. Now it happened that, while they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first-born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the living-space.


Rough gravel clatters across
The frozen drive as I walk to
The old barn. Most of it is packed
Solid into the Jo Daviess county soil
That saw my birth here as I
Go to another birth, once more, that
Once more, I may be born.

My footfalls, the only noise
in the evening dark, silence broken
by the cold metal snap of the
latch on the warped red door.
Entering, I enter another world,
Filled with the magic that awakens
My heart to what is always waiting
whenever I take this journey, not
of distance but memory.
It is the woman I first see, no, it
Is her fear, her eyes, wondering
Whether the snap of the latch brings
Friend or threat. She crouches low
By the last wooden stanchion; the
Cows now loose in the field, having
Been milked. The stanchions
Rough cut brown boards worn smooth
On inside edges by the necks of cows
Scratching an itch or straining to reach
The last blades of hay in this manger
Where now lies another food.
Stacks of hay and straw bales make a
Wall behind her so she cannot run
Or hide in the bales where mice rustle
In the silence. But she does not run.
She must be here Just as certainly as
I must be here, waiting, watching for
The rustle of what moves not among
the bales … but in myself.

She sits, watching me, her head turning
Again and again to the child, so recently
Come from the warmth of her
Womb to this common, rude space no one
Would notice as anything more than
An old barn on a half-forgotten farm
Of no particular importance to anyone,
Except to me because every year I come
here … to see him.

She watches him, the child,
Asleep in the straw who does nothing but
Make new-born sounds and awaken me
Once more to wonder that such a child
Born in such a place should mean everything
To me and a world that needs this moment
More than anything else.

The fear-eyed mother keeping watch over
The wrapped child, warm against the cold,
A more or less pathetic scene with no glory
To suggest God or royalty. Yet my soul
Knows an invitation here that is more than
Invitation because it awakens the
Love and compassion it invites, awaking, too,
Awareness that the compassion awakened
Is exactly the salvation the child is promised
To bring. And he does, just lying there, for
I know … standing there, watching them
The soul who kicked gravel across the lot is
larger now and the hand that threw the latch
more gentle for having seen him once more.

Pr. David L. Miller

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