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Those miniature mangers we keep around our homes at Christmastime are liars — they make us forget that the three kings (or magi) never hovered around Jesus’ birthplace to adore him along with the shepherds, angels and various ungulates. It took them time to get where they were going. In this, I understand and sympathize with them. It takes most of us time to see the way to God — years and years and years. As such a sojourner, I felt compelled to compose the following.

I didn’t get it
not at first
still don’t, not really
but the portents are present
and I can read them,
the words becoming old friends
to my tongue.
One of these days,
after crossing the desert
or the ocean
or the mountains — any of these
may be —
I will at last decipher the last
of the bent runes,
turn my map counter-clockwise,
realize that where I’ve been
is where I’m going
after all, and then
I will arrive, hot on the heels of magi,
with only my body of stardust to give.
It will suffice.

Two inches of snow in Atlanta. Polar vortexes. Snow days. Winter has us in its grip, and an icy grip it is. Of course, every winter feels apocalyptic in its way; we tend to let Spring and Summer thaw us into a kind of balmy forgetfulness, only for Winter to return with bitter reminders. Such are the seasons, if one is lucky enough to live someplace with seasons. (I grew up in California, where the seasons consist of “raining” and “not raining”. It imparts a rather unrealistic vision of all things weather-related.)

We also experience, at various times in our lives, a winter of the soul. Hope is in cold storage; the way ahead appears alarmingly icy. It is during these times that we ought to turn to comfort, whether that’s a warm cup of soup or a familiar prayer. Personally, I derive comfort from poetry.

Lately, I’ve been intrigued with the metaphor and connectedness between birds and prayer. (Which is strange, because birds, especially in large number, generally give me the heebie-jeebies.) Both ascend skyward, singing. Both are as natural as the seasons. So, in honor of Winter, please accept the following haiku. And stay warm!

Word of praise takes flight
soars heavenward on bright wings;
blessings fall like snow.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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