Remembering

photo/BarryLewis/Alamy

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men,
From heaven’s all-gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo!, the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendours fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

E H Sears

un jour sans pain est un jour sans vie
a day without bread is a day without life

The little one born in a stable (and in other stables) beneath the stars in Bethlehem (which in Hebrew means House of Bread)  arrived in a ‘birthday suit,’ a marvellous and extraordinary strategy adopted by every little one that had come before, and every little one that came after – insofar as instantly recognisable humanity is the only (and the only important) identification. Alpha and Omega. In this Beginning, and in every Beginning, and in the Beginning at the End.

Fleetingly, unaffiliated, unclothed and unbadged, this little one, every little one, belongs only to the One Universal Family.

Fleetingly, unaffiliated, unclothed and unbadged, this little one, every little one, arrives as a sign, an angel, a message, something anointed, something breathed into, Some One to be remembered and celebrated. Like the bread of life itself. Like the milk of human kindness and compassion.

Clear as cold night air the message of the arrival, of all such arrivals, touches humankind.

un jour sans pain est un jour sans vie
a day without bread is a day without life

Let the whole earth give back the song which – all too fleetingly – these little ones sing.

From my heart to your heart, whomsoever and wheresoever you may be: may you have a kind, full and thankful heart. And the Shalom of good bread tonight.

Angels

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photo at pixabay

I enjoyed tv’s Angels in my teens – since when I’ve thought of nurses generally by that epithet. My eighty-five year old Dad is in their long-term care in hospital at present, and a recipient of their goodness, together with that of many of their cheerful and hard-working colleagues.

The experience of visiting loved ones (or anyone) in hospital is enhanced immeasurably when there’s obvious, visible ‘connection’ between carers and the cared for.

Today I want to note enormous appreciation for those whose care for my parents, family, me and mine makes a world of a difference. I appreciate it being a part of their daily routine, time and again, with whoever is before them. Not for a moment an easy profession, but the cheery ‘it’s lovely to see you looking your old self again’ echoes … in hearts. Thank you to the ‘angels’.

Silent words

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We’re living through a season of family funerals, illness among family, friends and neighbours, and truly shocking events on the wider world stage. We’ve physically journeyed to celebrate lives lived far from our home, but close to our hearts. And then there’s the daily mental travel, hither and thither, at breakneck speed. Often I have heard the admonishment in E H Sears’ great Christmas hymn – ‘hush the noise ye men of strife and hear the angels sing.’

So why did I drag my feet as I prepared for today’s Contemplative gathering? Why? When I knew from experience that soon enough – towards the end of the day – I’d be wishing (again) for such a day every day! Well, I guess it’s because we humans are a bit slow on the uptake sometimes. We simply forget. We get lost in our own ‘stuff.’ Or idiocy.

Anyway. I found myself in the right chair, at the right time, in a circle with perhaps 25 others. The facilitator offered brief introductory words about words – ‘the black words’ (the literal, the descriptive, the ‘go into your room and shut the door’) and the white words (what’s beneath the merely obvious? – the metaphorical, the ‘go into your inner room and shut the door’). And thankfully these spoken words were intended to lead the gathering towards silent words: the generous, gentle breath of life where ‘angels’ (silently, even if noisily) ‘sing’!

And after a little space (was it an hour? or two? who knows?) the little circle rippled outwards and elsewhere, and I felt the sun hot on my shoulders on the riverbank, and birdsong joyous in my ears, and the river’s singing, dappled and unprotesting, as Life flowed on – and my doing battle with it – with the river, with Life – my ‘I’m not really sure I want to go today’ subsided into new recognition of the Ancient Memory – the ‘quiet waters by.’ And rippled, returning to the circle, and later rippled on outwards, and homewards. Again.