A poem for Christmas 2020

One of my favourite authors of all time is Maya Angelou, who never fails to move me with her poetry and prose. I have only just recently come across this poem, written in 2005 for the White House Christmas tree lighting ceremony, and so I’d like to share it with you. This month I’ve listened a lot to the carol ‘In the Bleak Mid-Winter’, and the verse ‘Snow had fallen, Snow on snow’ has resonated. I’d always thought of that line as being about more beautiful snow falling, but this year it seems to me to be about more struggle, more disease, more tiers. This is echoed in Angleou’s poem ‘Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche’.

But this is indeed the ‘Glad Season’, a time where, even in this bleakest of winters, we can have hope and joy because the God of Peace has entered into our world. I love the image that, ‘Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us;
As we make our way to higher ground’.

And so wherever you are, whoever you are with, whatever tier you’re in, peace be with you and all those you love. Happy Christmas. Clare

AMAZING PEACE:  A Christmas Poem
by Maya Angelou

Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.

Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.

We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Peace.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.

On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.

At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.

We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.

Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.

Author: clarehayns

College Chaplain and Welfare Coordinator of Christ Church, Oxford | Mum of three boys | wife of a juggler and magician | Council of Reference of ZANE - http://www.zane-zimbabweanationalemergency.com | enjoys board games, dog walking, films, eating out.

9 thoughts on “A poem for Christmas 2020”

  1. Thank you! Merry Christmas!

    Helen

    On Fri, 25 Dec 2020, 6:48 am Consider the Lilies, wrote:

    > clarehayns posted: ” One of my favourite authors of all time is Maya > Angelou, who never fails to move me with her poetry and prose. I have only > just recently come across this poem, written in 2005 for the White House > Christmas tree lighting ceremony, and so I’d like to share” >

    Like

  2. Clare, that’s truly lovely. Thank you. Rather than repeat what I’ve just written, when you have time (your busiest day today I think?!) see my FB post re flooding in North Bucks, etc. What a year. The flooding, Covid (we’re fine, as we hope and assume are all Hayns and Benyons) and the sadness etc of Brexit makes that threesome of “events dear boy, events” no one would wish for.

    May 2021 bring worldwide effective vaccinations for all, and the slow rebuilding of our communities after so many life-changing hits.

    Love from Peter & me
    Léonie x

    Sent from my iPhone

    Like

  3. Thank you Margaret. I came across Clare Hayns back in Lent when she did a long series of reflections about women in the Bible.

    Have a lovely peaceful day!

    Ann.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  4. Happy Christmas, Clare. Beautiful poem – I have forwarded it to many friends. Looking forward to seeing you later. Jill x

    Original Message ——From: “Consider the Lilies”

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  5. I so enjoyed reading this poem, so fitting for our time. Thank you
    I love ” IN the bleak midwinter “too my favourie ,it was judged as the nations nr 3 most favourite on Songs of Praise
    wishing everyone a very Happy -and healthy -amd better
    NEw Year

    Like

  6. This is beautiful, thank you so much Clare. I love the part about the loudness of Peace!
    Happy Christmas and New Year.

    Like

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