As many of you know, I am an Orthodox Christian which means today is not what it is for most; Nativity for traditional Christians is still two weeks away. I live in a different world than most people in America in choosing to observe the liturgical calendar of the Church but I am not so far removed from reality not to note the Western Christmas season and all it means to my many friends here who worship on the Gregorian calendar. Joyous Noel to you all!
This year I received a Christmas poem from Beth Priest in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, which annual event, because she has sent them since I first ‘met’ her online years ago and because they are so good, has become a marker of the Philippian Fast for me. I share ‘Standing Still’ below with her permission in the hope that you find it as edifying as I did — and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
“In the Jesus child of Mary lives the almighty God. Wait a minute! Don’t speak; stop thinking! Stand still before this statement! God became a child! Here he is, poor like us, miserable and helpless like us, a person of flesh and blood like us, our brother. And yet he is God; he is might.”
I am rushing, rushing, doing more,
I am rushing, rushing, wanting more,
I am rushing though my heart is sore,
I am rushing, rushing, rushing…
I am rushing this time to assist,
I am rushing this time to acquire.
I am rushing as though hopes consist
Of all I dream, desire and conspire.
I rush as though I think I know
The way each moment ought to go,
I rush like I can hold together
The world in all its weary weather.
I rush as though my life depended
On what I’ve said or done or mended.
I rush from one place to another,
I cram my heart with fuss and bother.
Till one day I am stopped. That’s all.
Just stopped before I start to fall.
A hand is held before my face.
It startles me, this hand of grace.
It bids me stop for a long while.
It bids me stand, not think of miles
To go and do before I sleep.
It bids me laugh. It bids me weep.
It points, this hand, across the years,
It gestures love and calms my fears.
It points me to a Child, a stable.
It points me to the One who’s able
To hold and know, forgive and mend.
It shows me joy that will not end.
I am stopping, stopping, stepping down,
I am stopping, stopping, slowing down.
I am stopping. Now an act of will.
I am stopping. I am standing still.
“O worship and adore!” The whispered call.
The quiet is enough. His love is all.
~Elisabeth M. Priest, Advent 2011
Thank you, Beth, for this poem!
Her Majesty the Queen also has some Christmas notes for her subjects you might want to read.