Merry Christmas! We’re taking some time off from our usual writing for Christmas. Instead, I wanted to share with you this beautiful poem by Fr. John Duffy. We were first introduced to it 13 years ago (the summer we met!) when we were working with Totus Tuus. The phrase, “And nothing would again be casual or small,” was put on that year’s t-shirt, and I was struck by the truth and beauty in that little sentence. The poem is about Mary after the annunciation. She is trying to wrap her mind about what has happened, and realizes the gravity of the news she has heard. God has entered into human existence. All is now infused with His light, and nothing, not the bird’s call as it meets her ear, not the pitcher on the table waiting to be filled, is exempt from it.
God has become Man. The Christ Child, the Savior of the World, has been born. Nothing, nothing, nothing, will again be casual or small.
Do we notice this in our life? All can be infused with the Light of Christ if we let it. Everything we do can be sanctified when offered to God in our hearts. Will you sit today, and just observe? Observe your children laughing as they play together, or concentrating on the new game/toy/gadget they received for Christmas. See the light in their existence, the gift that they are. See how nothing is small. Then, as you are moved to act, to do some act of service for those in your life today, remember to offer and to ask: offer this little moment to God, a movement of the heart towards Him as you serve another, and ask Him to infuse this moment with His grace.
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:5)
I Sing of a Maiden by Rev. John Duffy, C.S.s.R.
And was it true, The stranger standing so, And saying things that lifted her in two, And put her back before the world’s beginning? Her eyes filled slowly with the morning glow. Her drowsy ear drank in a first sweet dubious bird. Her cheek against the pillow woke and stirred To gales enriched by passage over dew, And friendly fields and slopes of Galilee Arose in tremulous intermixture with her dreams, Till she remembered suddenly… Although the morning beams Came spilling in the gradual rubric known to every day, And hills stood ruinous, as an eclipse, Against the softly spreading ray, Not touched by any strange apocalypse Like that which yesterday had lifted her sublime, And put her back before the first grey morn of Time — Though nothing was disturbed from where she lay and saw, Now she remembered with a quick and panting awe That someone came, and took in hand her heart, And broke irresistibly apart, With what he said, and how in tall suspense He lingered, while the white celestial inference, Pushing her fears apart, went softly home.
Then she had faltered her reply, And felt a sudden burden of eternal years, And shamed by the angelic stranger standing by Had bowed her head to hide her human tears. Never again would she awake And find herself the buoyant Galilean lass, But into her dissolving dreams would break A hovering consciousness too terrible to pass — A new awareness in her body when she stirred, A sense of Light within her virgin gloom: She was the Mother of the wandering Word, Little and terrifying in her laboring womb. And nothing would again be casual and small, But everything with light invested, overspilled With terror and divinity, the dawn, the first bird’s call, The silhouetted pitcher waiting to be filled.