Meditations on the Birth of the Christ Child
a collection of 12 sonnets
by M Ryan Taylor
Copyright © 2008 M Ryan Taylor
In that first bright beginning the Word was,
earnestly speaking in truth the secret of life,
severing the shadows, the gleaming knife
that cut creations corner stone. So does
the Word shine forth, but like a marshal fife
upon deaf, dark ears gains no attention,
so in gloom there is no comprehension.
Though He descending took to flesh our strife,
and suffered each and every tension
ten-thousand fold or more than we can know,
so we to life’s end blindly racing go,
never knowing the true rate redemption
cost as He a mortal did roam this earth,
never to know the true pain of our birth.
Daily strode abreast God’s rod of iron,
a humble man of Aaron’s brotherhood,
a priest and servant, for daily he would
stand within the temple to pray and burn
an offering to Israel’s Holy One. Should
his aspect bare the sorrow of his days,
he simply sought, as did his wife, to raise
a son. Though he knew she no longer could
bear children, his praying plea had always
held hope. The far day came for him to burn
incense in the Holy Place, each took turn.
There he fearful fell, awed before the gaze
of God’s messenger, and thought himself daft
to hear his hope so long denied, he laughed.
Fear not Mary, sweet child of Judah’s line,
David’s daughter, princess of royal blood.
When Adam breathed and pulled forth from the mud
God took his rib and formed a perfect vine
that spread it’s twine throughout the earth by bud,
blossom, fruit and seed; so was born mankind
of Eve, mother most blessed, yet thou shalt bind
her to thee, all before and from the flood,
for in thy womb salvation’s song is signed.
Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God,
the Prince of Peace shall spring forth from thy sod,
the vessel of our father’s will and mind.
Through trust this act of simple charity
makes e’er the nations your posterity.
Mary’s sweet voice! the child leaps! the child knows
our Lord is near. My son in his rapture
kicks walls of the womb . . . imprisoned, capture
must seem cruel, bound in flesh, head to toes,
mind in veil’s forgetfulness. Yet, a sure
and deeper knowledge clasped within his soul,
allows him to discern the seamless pull
of our King, an orbit locked, a map pure,
to bring Salvation’s song and pay the toll
of all our wrongs. These two, like brilliant star
and sun, will shine a light so bright and far,
creation too must leap. Through the lull
of memory, my child discerns Christ bright,
spirit can’t forget love of ancient light.
Betrayal . . . deception . . . duplicity
in my young sweet bride? Falsity in her?
I can’t believe . . . and yet, the awful burr
of doubt . . . just what was her complicity
in this which other circumstance might stir
in my heart an attitude of delight?
Such awful pain engulfs me at her sight,
she who was to me of women most pure.
Must I put her away? Can it be right
to send her far from home, from hearth, from me?
The alternative, too beastly to see,
I could not bear . . . Father, the full spent night
calls my weary self into silent streams,
please give me resolution in my dreams . . .
Road to Bethlehem, stacked with travelers,
walking, riding, moving, pushing forward
at the cry of Caesar-king, on southward
past Jerusalem to tax. On the burrs
of rock and sand all walks of life are poured,
melted molten, streaming to each house’s home.
Pressing so intently on, over dome-
shaped hills, through the barren valleys toward
the goal . . . so very far, and, as they roam,
not one takes notice of a mother great
with child, or lends an arm to ease her weight
save Joseph gently lifts her from the loam.
While the horde does tribute a mundane king,
they flee in force God’s greatest offering.
No kindness shown in the Innkeeper’s face,
no room for a mother in labor’s pain,
no shelter to be found from wind and rain,
to shield the infant Savior of our race.
Joseph guarded Mary under the mane
of his cloak, the Lion of Israel
compelled to beg for cover, any shell
from night’s cold and the masses of the plain . . .
but this . . . foul, filthy, fly plagued cave, a cell
to four-footed beasts of burden? A tear
repressed, resolution made, a still fear
stifled, “Though the gaping gates of hell
yawn wide against us laughing in this hour,
it’s hosts can’t stop the birth of God’s true power!”
Some were dancing, others singing, bringing
food or silent sleeping under the light . . .
Strange star, brightening Bethlehem’s sight,
like a lantern to the lost, hovering
high above us in the dark with it’s kite-
like tail swooping clear down, inviting all
to grab hold and follow. We left our hall,
our hearth, to join our husbands on that night.
We were afraid when the warm spring air tall
with legions of angels exploded far
as night’s fingers carried up to the star,
trembling at their sight when given our call.
Despite all fear I can now clearly see
this night could exist child, only for thee.
From orient lands through desert so dry?
or somewhere across the Caspian Sea?
close-by Hippos - due east of Galilee?
or far-flung Scythian plains of blue sky?
Were they arrayed in rare pageant revelry?
vestments of ermine? or rare silks so fine?
white leather shoes of dexterous design?
or plain pilgrim’s cloth presented humbly?
Merchant sons educated in the mine?
magi-sired men who learned the way of man?
born into priesthood power of Levi’s clan?
or begotten blood of a royal line?
Though nothing’s known about such simple facts,
we judge them wise according to their acts.
Frankincense, myrrh, and gold we have brought thee,
offspring of promise, ancient child of Light.
God led us by a new star on this night
to Bethel’s grassy range of hills to see
His Son made manifest in flesh, by sight
to witness this- your birth. Gold, for the King
of Kings- seraphim hosts timelessly sing
before thy throne in raiments of pure white.
Incense, for priesthood that rests on thy wing-
sweet scent of praise for thy coming to earth.
Myrrh, for the death which will bring on new birth-
the Lamb will invoke resurrection’s ring!
These gifts are thine, though we see that they pall
before God’s good gift- His Son, to save all.
Troubled by the claim a king would be born
(the prophets agreed with stars and seasons),
Herod raged without restraint for reasons
rooted in hatred’s black core- fear. So torn
with suspicions, he’d murdered in treason’s
name his sons by blood and marriage. His wife
strangled he dead, a fit of jealous strife,
and slew the elder’s council . . . Fierce legions
marked his power from Rome, sign of his life-
long friendship with Caesar. These bloody two
with devout lust for power, found what few
will ever know, death in a close friend’s knife,
and to rot live away. As the blood runs
it warns: do not offend God’s little ones.
Noble Joseph of old was sold a slave
to quell his brothers’ vengeance. He was good,
kind, wise- with honor broke his yoke and stood
to save Egypt and his kin from the grave.
In end, being Pharaoh’s second, he could
have crushed his brothers but in mercy chose
the advocate’s part. Likewise, Jesus rose
like a flower from Egypt’s shielding hood,
born to inherit the grim jealous woes
of Herod’s hatred, but never tainted,
Christ through awful griefs became acquainted
with passionate forgiveness. Though His foes
still strive in vain and loathe his gentle love,
he yet would save them in his home above.