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The following poem was written by Philip Quirke and reflects on both the stable and the gift of God born within it:


Among the animals in the stable:

Joseph's donkey, the innkeeper's ox,

even a fine Arabian stallion. And chickens

and guinea fowl pecking in straw-dust.

Around the crib, metaphors abound:

the lion lying down with the lamb,

a cat put among the pigeons,

perhaps the wispy leap of a unicorn.

In the manger, swaddled baby, divine child

hands outstretched in welcome. All welcome:

his fellow humans, fellow creatures,

shepherds with lambs, kings leading camels,

filling out the tableaux of the crib:

the participants are rapt,

amazed at the mystery of God present among us:

nothing like this had ever been done before.

And the world of His incarnation,

much like ours: full of questioning,

anxious before the future, disillusioned

with leaders political and religious.

What drew these visitors, poor and rich?

- An intuition of the real possibility

that life will somehow be suffused with hope,

the future, kinder, better.


He is a worldly man, toughened by life,

who softened at the birth of his child.

Holds the baby often, to relieve the weary mother.

Feels the world in a new way, knows what a gift is,

trusting intuitively the good things which came to him.

A Grandmother remembers that moment of grace

when, after a night spent watching her sick baby,

dawn broke behind the curtains. The child lived.

And though he’s gone his own way now,

the gift is alive within her still, at eighty years of age.

Jesus, child, saviour, Word made Flesh -

the overflow of Love without limit. Do we find it

too good to be true ? Grateful, welcoming hearts

know what a Gift this is: for us, at Christmas,

called to trust what is there before our eyes.

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