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This Miracle — This Life

by Carmen Ruggero

"Let the little children come to me.....”

While sorting through trimmings to make my home
bright I found myself moaning, complaining, this night.
Ribbons too old, lights need replacement, can’t afford presents.
Nothing, nothing, and nothing! That’s what I have.

And so I went on hanging tinsel and bows and trinkets
when out of the silence, I heard a man’s voice.
Startled, I turned: “Who’s there?” I demanded to know.
Silence. Then I heard the voice whisper again,
and one more time, I did ask: “Who’s there?”

“Who, is not as important as what I’m here to say.”

The voice, firm but warm, commanded attention.
“Well, you have a lot of nerve not to show your face?”

“I’ve a story to tell you, I think you need to hear.”
And I find it hard to explain, pragmatic as I know I am,
but somehow, I was compelled to listen to a ghostly yarn.

He didn’t begin his story with a once upon a time...
He started with the accounting of a special birth and
not the child in Bethlehem. That would have been easy to guess.

“It is a very precious child,” he said, with purpose in his tone.

And as the tale unfolded, I transcended the sound of his voice
and stepped into his yarn, my fantasy, if you will,
and found myself walking across a field in the midst of night.
It was dim and cruel — no creature could have survived.

I was very cold and beginning to fade, when suddenly,
I felt a warm presence beside me. I turned. It was a young man
of humble portent and he smiled at me:

“I’m just a farm boy,” he said, “my home’s down yonder, a bit.”

“Are you the one whose voice I’ve heard?”
His blue gaze sparkled under that bitter December sky
when he looked at me and again, he smiled.

We pushed our way through frozen remnants of the harvest,
jumping over plow tracks and dry ears of corn
and the young man beside me wasn’t talking, any more.
“So, finish the story you want me to hear.”

“Soon enough... soon enough...”

A dim light inside a barn just ahead, was visible now.
Just a few steps and we were there to find it empty.
I stood just outside not knowing what to do.
“Why am I here? Whose birth is it you want me to see?”

The young farmer offered his hand to help me step inside
and as I took it, I froze to see the puncture in his palm.
What do I do? What do I say? What do I call him?
He smiled again as if he understood my confusion.

“We’ll call this your birth. You’re the special child
who forgot herself in the midst of what you call living.”

“But why am I here? A barn with not an animal in it,
an empty farmhouse and a dead corn field — why?”

“Cause you needed to see what nothing looks like.
A child would think it a playground; to you, it’s an empty barn.
A child would fill her stocking with dreams;
yours is filled with needs and wants; nothing else fits.
Where are your dreams in your Christmas list?”

I fell to my knees; understanding and yet, not — not wanting to.
I’m dreaming! That’s it; dreaming... Why would He honor me so?
But His presence pulled me in — there was no letting go.

“I don’t know what to do...” I cried.

And the words I heard him speak, I knew I’d heard before
but somehow, their meaning was fresh as a newborn thought.

“Love yourself as you would a child; learn to pray as children do...”

No pause to reflect on what I’d seen and heard and I was back home
to see my old trimmings sparkled with a touch of fine antiquity.
And the thought of Christmas felt as it was always meant to feel:
A gift of life; manifested by the birth of that special child within.

Copyright © 2005 by Carmen Ruggero

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