The Journey Of The Magi
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
The Priest at our Christmas Eve service yesterday said some faily strange things. He is admittedly a sweet man and well-liked by his congregants, but I’m not sure that his message really brought home the great Humility, Grace and Love wrapped up in the Christmas story? Pity he only mentioned Jesus in respect of the ‘baby’ in the manger, he managed to actually tell the story of Buddha, and went on quite a lot about ‘Joseph the Just’ … But I’m no preacher, so I’ll stop my criticism at that.
But one thing he did say, is that the Christmas story is about a journey.
This made me think about T. S. Elliot’s Journey of the Magi. Ever since I first read this striking poem I’ve wondered about all those who made the journey to see the Christ Child and what a strange and wonderful story this is … one that so many people with hear today.
Hope you enjoy the poem.
Whatever your religious beliefs, I wish you a Blessed Christmas and an a 2017 filled with adventure, peace, joy and purpose.
P.s. Two days ago I took part in my first Nativity Play since childhood. It was super fun and the whole village came to watch us. I was angel Gabriel, Hubby was the head shepherd and our cousin’s husband from Gabon, was a wise man – probably the only cast member ethnically anything like their character.
P.p.s. Hubby went against the traditional grain of the shepherd with a dish-towel on his head and instead he wore his Basotho blanket and traditional hat which we bought in Lesotho (we’re going all out for an African Christmas this year).
P.p.p.s. Sorry I haven’t blogged for such a while, I’ve been on a bit of a road trip … I promise to tell you all about that in my next blog entry.
P.p.p.p.s. In the words of Tiny Tim – God Bless us, every one.
This blog is dedicated to my Dad who is not able to spend Christmas with us this year – we are all thinking of you, Dad and miss you. Here his is in this photo when he was still his old self and with his precious dogs.