Monday, December 22, 2014

Our Nativity Rose

Lo, how a rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung,
Of Jesse’s lineage coming, as men of old have sung 
O Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispel with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere…
                from Es Ist Ein Ros’ Entsprungen, 15th century German hymn, 
                translated by Theodore Baker

How do we lay hold of the beauty of Emmanuel?

How do we rise above and see beyond the solidity of matter, the dynamism of energy, the logic of reason, the insight of intuition, the sorrow of the soul, the occupation of our intent? Do we embrace our need, our doubt, our trust, our scope… our nativity all in a moment?

Flush with the Word and His word, do we grip confessions like polished banisters that segregate mineral cathedrals into naves and vaults, locked expressions of faith: fa├žade and genuflection? Or do we let go the exhaustion of anxiety from the pursuit of our most earnest desires and feel it slide from our shoulders onto the floor like winter air pouring down from clerestory skylights?

We look up and feel it caress our head and chill our feet until we are baptized afresh, as though suddenly kneeling in a soft, bracing snowfall of joy and light, our ears and face aglow like the rose, the heat of our blood rising to meet our spirit. And there in our nativity, a rosy bloom of love and hope radiates from the manger, His tiny translucent hand reaches out, beautiful in form, and we cannot do else but grasp it in our own. Then a holy pain from His palm to ours ascends within us, His blood rising to meet His Spirit in our very being.

Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel… until the Son of God appears.
Rejoice! Rejoice!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

A Son Never Forgets

In days long gone by you tilled the soil and sand,
Got a long row still to hoe on the land.
Well, your grown kids and your grandkids and their babies ever yet,
You old rascal, Dad, they will always care, and a son never forgets.

I sailed to Treasure Island once with a rogue named Long Tall Jim.
We plundered caves with Sawyer, gutted fish with old Huck Finn.
We surveyed the West with Lewis, canoed the C’lumbia with Clark.
We hunted with Daniel and Davy and Captain Jack, who hid in the dark.
Well the sun was always rising then and now it ever sets,
You old rascal, Dad, you were always them, and a son never forgets.

You drove us down the Topsy Grade to see what might be there,
Along this rocky stagecoach road: wrecked cabins of pioneers.
When you sailed us to Buck Island you found an arrowhead on the shore.
I was so amazed, John Wayne himself could not have dazzled me more.
What fate came to that arrowhead I can’t now recollect,
But it’s fixed upon my memory ‘cuz a son never forgets.

One day the fire came and some tough years burned away.
They burned right through our souls, didn’t they?
But you, ever the Fire Chief, stood tall to protect,
You old rascal, Dad, you were always there, and your son never forgets.

Now we’ll plot one last adventure asleep in our easy chairs.
Dream of camp in cold October, track down the stealthy deer.
Young brother Mike like Robin Hood will bend his trusty bow
And launch an arrow into the cloudless sky to see where it goes.
Yes the sun was always rising then and rises still I ‘spect,
You old rascal, Dad, you were always there, and your sons never forget.

For Jim Paxton,
words and music by his son Ken