As we move very quickly from Advent IV (“Purify our conscience, O Lord, by thy daily visitation, that our Lord Jesus Christ may find in us a mansion prepared for himself “) it is hard to feel “ready” for Christmas. But the Incarnation is never something we are “ready” for. After trying unsuccessfully to put some thoughts about this into prose, I went back to a poem I published a few years ago, and found that the poetry says this better. The poem was originally from my book, Annunciations: Poems out of Scripture (Edwin Mellen Poetry Press, 2003). Here is a slightly revised version
On the Way to Bethlehem
The timing could not be worse
But it’s the law. My husband has to go,
Even though I’m well along.
You are lively within me, moving and kicking me.
Your kicking hurts. It wakes me in the night,
Reminds me, as I walk
More and more laboriously,
You are coming soon.
I suppose we are safe enough
After all, it was an angel who came.
Looking back, I have never doubted that.
My husband has been tender, despite my disgrace.
He is sure, too, about the angel.
So I suppose we have no cause to worry.
It’s only my aching back
The sharp pains from your tiny feet,
The smell and press of crowds, and all the delays.
The only thing that matters now, is bearing you safely
Into this messy world
And now even that I cannot control.
I did what I could do, but it’s all left behind.
At home, we had a place prepared for you.
I longed to see you soon.
Then I hoped you would come later, after our return
But now I know for sure that you will be coming
To a place we did not know.
I catch my breath at a sudden squeeze of pain.
My body recognizes the agony,
- Kathleen Henderson Staudt
- I work as a teacher, poet and spiritual director at a number of institutions in the DC area. My teaching focuses in various ways on writing, poetry, Spirituality and Christian vocation and ministry - especially from the point of view of the laity. I also offer classes and retreats encouraging people to explore their inner lives, engage their creativity and reflect on their beliefs about God, vocation, and how we can discern and pursue new ways to transform our broken world. I enjoy speaking of faith in the secular academy as well as reminding those preparing for ministry in the Church that our primary purpose is to love and serve the world beyond the church's doors. I love helping people to grow in faith and to find their own voices, and I also love encouraging them to use their minds. I see no contradiction between these impulses, believing as I do that faith, reason and creativity work together.