Far from a barn in Bethlehem
in miles and in time,
remembering the stories passed
and wondering just how much
was forgot, and how much lost,
of Jesus’ birth that holy night.
Who will recall, in truth,
the circumstances of this year?
For though we think our times
“unprecedented,” it is just
a sign of swift forgetfulness,
a well-established human trait.
The griefs so hard to bear will not
be felt by our descendants, for we
did not recall the sorrows of
our ancestors, nor think to learn
from their successes or their failures to
protect ourselves from ill.
Nor will our children’s children hear
of ti leaves waving gently in the breeze
beyond the window’s Christmas glow.
Why should they? They will have their own
bedazzling sights and sounds at hand,
their own deep scents to breathe.
Now my tree’s glow (in echo of
ohi’a blossoming upon the slopes of
Kilauea) takes on the shades of stone
a-fountaining, a-flowing, and
a-pooling at the mountain peak.
This might be held in memory.
For this becomes a link between
the distant island of Hawai’i and the inn
of Bethlehem, the places where the Earth
grows thin, and from the deepest places
of the planet and the love of God
there flows the light a-glowing bright.
Yes, here we have the breaking-in of grace:
the one builds up the land and rises
from the seas. The other builds up love
and joy and peace, reclaiming souls
from greed and other-disregarding sin.
So come, Lord Jesus! Make the darkness bright.
Make this a holy Christmas.