‘Tis the Season

Of course, it’s never not a good time to read, but some literature is meant to be enjoyed at certain times of the year. In keeping with the spirit of the season, Christmas offers up a great bounty of stories, poems, and carols ranging from carefree and delightful to quiet and contemplative. Some are classics known to most of the English-speaking world, some are family favorites, others are new discoveries, a few may even be very personal treasures.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of the words that move me most during this season. Here’s a bit from George MacDonald’s Adela Cathcart to begin with.

“The winter is the childhood of the year. Into this childhood of the year came the child Jesus; and into this childhood of the year must we all descend. It is as if God spoke to each of us according to our need: My son, my daughter, you are growing old and cunning; you must grow a child again, with my son, this blessed birth-time. You are growing old and careful; you must become a child. You are growing old and distrustful; you  must become a child. You are growing old and petty, and weak and foolish; you must become a child — my child, like the baby there, that strong sunrise of faith and hope and love, lying in his mother’s arms in the stable.”

Advertisements

The Fortune-Teller’s Warning

 

IMG_4867

image by Rebekah Choat

You will meet a handsome stranger;
say no more than is required.
Always be alert to danger;
one small spark can kindle fire.

Put no trust in smiling faces;
watch the flicker in the eyes.
Don’t be charmed by social graces;
laughing lips may yet tell lies.

Feed your letters to the blue flame;
yield your birthmark to the knife.
You must not reveal your true name;
in it lies the power of life.

Set your heart upon the straight way;
keep your eyes trained on the light.
Never turn aside from clear day
for a creature of the night.

One I know once met a Changer
riding as a fair esquire…
You will meet a handsome stranger;
say no more than is required.

~ Rebekah Choat

 

In the Bleak Midwinter

fullsizerender-3

The words of my best-loved dead poet notwithstanding, midwinter is not at Christmas time. Rather, it is now, as the grey days of January ghost into the grey days of February; now, when it’s increasingly hard to remember green and golden days of sunshine, and nearly impossible to imagine that they will come again.

My best-loved living poet understands this season well, and gives me words for the blank emptiness I often feel this time of year. But marvelously, miraculously, he also reminds me that it is a season which will pass, one which I will remember not only for its heaviness, but also for truths laid bare, strength given to hold on, and the tenacity of hope.

Because We Hunkered Down
by Malcolm Guite

These bleak and freezing seasons may mean grace
when they are memory. In time to come
when we speak truth, then they will have their place,
telling the story of our journey home,
through dark December and stark January
with all its disappointments, through the murk
and dreariness of frozen February,
when even breathing seemed unwelcome work.

Because through all of these we held together,
because we shunned the impulse to let go,
because we hunkered down through our dark weather,
and trusted to the soil beneath the snow,
slowly, slowly, turning a cold key,
Spring will unlock our hearts and set us free.

My November Guest

dsc03688-480x640

My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
thinks these dark days of autumn rain
are beautiful as days can be;
she loves the bare, the withered tree;
she walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
she’s glad her simple worsted gray
is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate deserted trees,
the faded earth, the heavy sky,
the beauties she so truly sees,
she thinks I have no eye for these,
and vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
the love of bare November days
before the coming of the snow,
but it were vain to tell her so,
and they are better for her praise.

~ Robert Frost