A Reading from the Letter to the Jesuits
December 17, 2006
How the Innkeeper, the Old Man, and Joseph Fared on Christmas
December 24, 2006

Jesus, wanting to please the five thousand and thousand insignificant tikes, cropped the oversized beard, hooked to his ears. Nevermind his fingernails being jaggedly sharp, oversized claws that hadn’t seen a manicure. And who could notice the calluses wrapping his feet, firing the skin tones to an unnatural yellow?

Things are white-capped now, spread over the day like a splash of a self-doubting painter. It is, in its way, a delicate thermos for the heated world; and who should argue with time hauled up in fireplace-adorned homes? Crisp ornaments, frozen on the white canvas of porches, are so tempted to fall. How better to see the sparkling greens – if at the cost of one’s life? And no one can blame them. Certainly not the Jesus-loving fathers, galloping in the banks of ever-mounting snow.

Children, the while, are torturously wondering after God’s intent. Who could possibly concoct a better scheme to stall the world, to arouse the many discrete, to extract by soft invasions of weather? None other, thinks the little ones: the small and insignificant, hugging their fleece blankets by the fireside. It is magical in youth to be so curtailed. Why, I wonder? But not long – before the light dulls to a crawl in the sky, and hushes fall across the stomach of the snow.

Jesus, doting Son, has taken to Birkenstocks instead of boots. And what of the mountains of snow? Traipsing over them, deer of his own creation (and why not sample his own genius?), he ushers from home to home, over fallen ornaments emblazoned on the snow. Sure kids, and Jesus was born from Bethlehem – through his own radical winter pox he stymies men who have altogether stalled. And Christmas, held bright in the spirits of ignorant children, by books and bright things, by bears and blocks, by brilliant bows and bouquets of the greatest of toys—yes, Jesus the man and the Son of the Lord gave children their Christmas in Santa Claus stripes.

To think I never knew there was Santa. Not ever, not once. But surely there was Jesus who knew nothing of toys. How could he, bumbling infant on hay? Though Jesus (as I knew him, friend and lover, confidante and son) could not have been anything less than apt. Teasing us surely with visions of poverty, mounting a throne made of sandals and burlap, we never cease to be awed, enrapt at the King serving us, bowing low.

I’m stuck here forever, His remembrancer designedly dropping and falling and covering the means and the ends of my world. If fields of a sort, stirring the heart as brothers do brothers, make enough of my day to pause and reflect, then what of unceasing salients of snow? I am here; enough of the day wondering, worrying, asking the untold why. Forever crying for time to myself and for Him, here it is:

Onward Christian soldier, and make of the day – Christmas in fact – the birth of an unsung King. To household and porches that creak at the thought of the cold. And the end of the year comes, and we sign our name to it in memories and pictures. Forever the end of the world this year, how did we give up the preference for stupid things – toys and the like – while giving their kind in kindness to children?

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