Was at the shops today. Liked watching dads obviously finished working and out shopping with their young children…liked seeing awkward lone teenagers looking a bit dazed having to shop for others but persevering all the same, out of secretly harboured but difficult-to express -love for their parents. Was blessed by little ones in nappies and tights, staggering with their new and still to be honed walking skills, with their sturdy “plonk plonk” legs and shining eyes and fine spindly hair. It all reminded me of this wonderful Christmas poem, from an era when poets and entertainers felt less need to be cynical or make political comment and could rejoice in lovely things without getting lost in an agenda. I hope it makes you feel warm… warm and cosy is good…so are thoughts of mystery and God…so is wondering worship with no other end in mind than worship.
Christmas by John Betjeman
The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.
The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
‘The church looks nice’ on Christmas Day.
Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says ‘Merry Christmas to you all’.
And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.
And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children’s hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say ‘Come!’
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.
And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
A Baby in an ox’s stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?
And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,
No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare –
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.
Hope this blesses you as it does me,