PROMISEDo you recall,
The promise of our younger days:
The wonder of a tree ablaze in light,
garlanded in gold and countless stories
shaped as ornaments;
the promise wrapped in paper and ribbon and bow,
spilling out of stockings like candy coins and chocolate reindeer.
For it is there for all to see in albums of photographs and
in attics in celluloid slowly eroding into dust.
Perhaps in children or children’s children
we sought to kindle embers of memory,
to see in their wide and wondrous eyes
the joy that clings to promise
like inseparable friends, sharers of secrets
who together traipsed the forests of youth
and embraced its mystery.
Let’s call it mood, these promises,
Evoked in carols and parking lots of crowded malls
and elves and reindeer and Santa Claus,
and Christmas trees of memories,
and model trains,
a sea of lights upon the eaves and lawns
and Christmas cards and Yule logs,
to turn the heaviness of life past five o’clock
and bring a weary smile
as the days grow shorter
and the nights unfriendly cool and long and dark.
And if such things bring a warmth and lift,
a mood turned towards giving gifts and
laughter over eggnog
or the family letter,
let it be.
Let it be, but spur your soul
to embrace this confounding notion:
The incarnation declares God
come into the world
in the flesh,
to live and die and live
so that, as they say, we, too, may upon the day
when we draw our final breath
allow the promise to carry us and those we love,
our most despairing hour overcome by light
bright enough in hope to
illuminate the child who leads us,
the promise beyond knowing, made known:
What began in Bethlehem to define our all in all.
Such is the mystery and wonder and heart of Christmas:
Promise being born that lives in us still and always.