Christmas comes this week, a celebration of one of the great mysteries of reality. The infinite personal God, beyond all imagining, became fully human while remaining fully divine, entered human history, experienced the ultimate brokenness and alienation—death—rose again to life, and ascended back to the eternal Father, taking our humanity into the Godhead for ever.
All that is true, but somehow such prose fails to do the truth justice. We need poetry.
So, I give you two poems for Advent, and hope you will use the season as an excuse to read poetry, hopefully aloud, and hopefully with a group of friends.
A Duller Moses
I litter Heaven with myself, a wad
Of tedium tossed into it, debris
Marring the skyscape wherein nebulae
Have shuddered into worlds, which at His nod
Shiver as swiftly into ash. I doze and do not see
How on time’s bramble bush impaling me
Each moment is a thorn aflame with God,
Burning within, without me night and day.
I tremble, dreaming between sleep and sleep
That He, both radiance and incendiary,
In my heart lies as on the cross He lay
(Which bed is fouler?), making my bone-heap—
Oh, monstrous miracle!—God’s sanctuary.
[From If I Had Wheels or Love: Collected Poems of Vassar Miller (1991), page 41.]
The groundhog is, at best, a simple soul
without pretension, happy in his hole,
twinkle-eyed, shy, earthy, coarse-coated gray,
of little use (except on Groundhog Day).
At Christmastime a rather doubtful fable
gives the beast standing room inside the stable
with other simple things, shepherds, and sheep,
cows, and small winter birds, and
on the heap of warm, sun-sweetened hay,
the simplest thing of all—a Baby.
Can a groundhog sing,
or only grunt his wonder? Could he know
this new-born Child had planned him,
long ago, for groundhog-hood? Whether true tale or fable,
I like to think that he was in the stable,
part of the Plan, and that He who designed
all simple wonderers, may have had me in mind.
[From Accompanied by Angels: Poems of the Incarnation by Luci Shaw (2006), page 31]