Tuesday, November 29, 2022

"A Bethlehem Memory"

 A-Poem-a-Day Until Christmas...

My first Christmas poem.

Bethlehem

Photo credit: bibleplaces.com



A BETHLEHEM MEMORY

Israel Pilgrimage II, May 1987

 

O little town of Bethlehem

how still we see thee lie

from the wheat field of Boaz

this pleasant mid-spring night

 

A zealous band of pilgrims

tracing footsteps of the Lord –

with hearts ablaze to praise

One so worthy to be adored

 

We huddle at the circular

stone threshing floor for wheat

with eyes fixed on the little town

so Christmas tableau sweet

 

We look around for shepherds

as the sun is going down

while to the strumming of guitar

we lift the joyful sound

 

of our voices unto Heaven

to give our gift of song…

Every carol that we know

is offered by the throng

 

The evening is so glorious

we do not want to leave –

Our dinners may be getting cold

but here our spirits cleave

 

The darkness slowly deepens

as dim starlights appear…

twilight glows with hymn-song

while in reverie we veer

 

back to the old, old stories

of the night of Holy Birth

Each of us is enthralled by

this blessed bit of earth

 

In the distance, the townsfolk

begin to light their lights

for the routine of living

in this simply awesome site

 

We wonder, do they ever kneel

to kiss the hallowed ground

where they spend their everydays?

Do the amber fields resound

 

with ecstatic jubilation?

Do stars shoot sparks of praise

for the glorious Gift given

that precious day of days?

 

O little town of Bethlehem…

this night we’ll always treasure

Echoes of carols, memories

will remain forever

 

Pure joy overflows our hearts

for Bethlehem’s Babe, Our Lord

was born here to save sinners…

Jesus, Savior of the World!

 

Maude Carolan



Would you like to read more of Maude's poems?


"Behold the Lamb...poetically!"
by Maude Carolan Pych
is available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

www.maudecarolanpych.net

Monday, November 28, 2022

"The Carpenter of Nazareth"

A-Poem-a-Day Until Christmas...

Image credit: Godshotspot.wordpress.com 

THE CARPENTER OF NAZARETH

 

I.

The carpenter laid his hammer down

brushed sawdust from his clothes

slouched onto the rude wooden bench

he’d been working on

and ran calloused hands

through his dark, wavy beard

It seemed he’d misjudged

his beloved, his betrothed

her purity, fidelity, her forthrightness

Earlier that day

the tender voice he knew well

spoke softly of pregnancy

an angel...overshadowing

of some holy thing

It was too much for him

incomprehensible, even incredible

Joseph leaned back against the rough wood

stretched his sinewy arms

gazed with resignation toward the heavens

He'd hand her a bill of divorcement —

wash his hands. It was over. Finished

He rose, shook his head

and returned to work

 

In the night

tension dissolved

into welcome sleep

Deep, deep in its midst

a flurry of wings and light

wrapped him in wonder

A stirring voice resonated

“Fear not...

Take Mary as your wife”

Words swirled as he tossed

“for the Son conceived in her

is of the Holy Spirit."

Then distinctly, Joseph heard

“Name Him Jesus…

“He will save your people from their sins”

 

II.

Mary placed a few belongings into a sack

She and Joseph were about to leave

for Bethlehem, for the census

She felt a hardy kick

from inside her swollen belly

and reflexively caressed the spot

“A knee,” she smiled

God had chosen her for a purpose

she could barely comprehend

and the birth would be soon

She neatly folded soft, clean cloths

and packed them

just in case her time would come

during the journey

 

Traveling was arduous

by foot and donkey-back

over hills and rocky terrain

Joseph was attentive

stopping periodically for rests

but evening was fast approaching

Finally, they could see the town ahead

Suddenly, Mary felt her stomach stiffen

Was this the sign

Elizabeth had told her about

Her back ached. She was weary

Soon, her stomach tightened again

then again, but stronger

She told Joseph

who touched her, tenderly

and bid her not to fret

Lodging was close by

But when they arrived

the innkeeper told them

the place was packed with travelers

Seeing their dilemma

he offered shelter and privacy

in the livestock cave out back

Joseph helped her off the donkey

and into the dark rock-hewn cave

Hurriedly, he gathered fresh hay

and prepared a makeshift nook

apart from the animals

then sat at Mary’s side, cooling her brow

as contractions intensified

 

III.

In the evening chill

amid moon and star and lantern-light

the musky odor of straw and dung

rhythmic sounds of

braying, bleating

and occasional shouts and laughter

emanating from the inn

the carpenter rolled his sleeves

and delivered the Promised One

Joseph presented the healthy boy child

to his virginal wife to nurse

then emptied a rugged old trough

and filled it with sweet-smelling hay

all the time thinking

of the fine, smoothly sanded cradle

back home in Nazareth

"Jesus, someday I'll teach you

how to select the finest woods

how to build and saw and sand

You'll be a fine carpenter, Jesus

a very fine carpenter…"

Joseph carefully placed Jesus

in the makeshift cradle

then fashioned a spot for himself

on the floor of the cave

and soon fell fast asleep

 

Maude Carolan

Sunday, November 27, 2022

"The Creche"

A-Poem-a-Day Until Christmas...

Maude's handpainted ceramic Nativity set.


THE CRECHE

 

I was a bride of twenty in the mid-sixties

decorating my home creatively and economically

by attending ceramic classes Tuesday evenings

in Bette Carozza's basement

We sat around the table and coffee cups

cleaning greenware, applying

underglazes and overglazes

talking girl talk all the while

We made cookie dishes and ashtrays

glossy green Christmas trees with snowy branches

fitted with tiny colored lights

We made rooster lamps, pitchers and bowls

piggy banks and tall German beer steins

The most ambitious of us

made chess pieces and Nativity figures

 

I began working on my Nativity set in 1965

took a few months off after Mom died

and picked up the last pieces

hot from Bette's old electric kiln

on Christmas Eve Day, 1966

How well I recall carefully cleaning

the fragile greenware with a sharp tool

till the seams were perfectly smooth

sanding and sponging tiny bumps

and filling pit holes

Wanting to be as authentic as possible

I applied three coats of sky blue to Mary's robe

(Did Mary actually own a blue robe?)

and ruddy brown to Joseph's

Jesus' features were less sharp

than the other figures

having been cast from a mold

that had been poured too many times

I unknowingly made the flesh tones too pale

for Middle Easterners

The magi and their regal camels

were embellished with accents of pure gold

and I glued tiny rhinestones

onto their gift offerings

even though it's likely

the Wisemen didn't visit the Christ Child

until months after He was born

The shepherds' garb was given earth tones

and a staff was provided for one of them

fashioned from a birch twig

I dabbed white froth onto the lambs' coats

and gave the cow big brown patches

making it a Guernsey

a breed not likely to have grazed

the fields of Bethlehem

The long-eared donkey was painted gray

Bette's husband, ChiChi

built a fine wooden crèche

with a place on top

to hang the golden-haired angel

who flourished a banner proclaiming

"Gloria in Excelsis Deo"

I installed a music box

which played "Adeste Fidelis"

and a little light bulb

and bought a bag of sweet straw

from Woolworth's

 

For more than five decades now

a few weeks before Christmas

I've been unpacking the big cardboard box

unwrapping the fragile figures from newspaper

and displaying them throughout the season.

When the children were young

Jesus wasn't placed in the manger

until Christmas Eve

when we all gathered round

and sang, "Happy Birthday"

 

The angel now has a chipped wing

and the Guernsey's missing a horn

but Jesus still lies sweetly in His crib

apparently not minding whether or not

I managed to get every jot and tittle

of His manger scene historically correct

He just lies sweetly there

year after year

reminding us

that significant night

long, long ago

is a forever celebration

 

Maude Carolan



For information about ordering Maude's books,

"Wonderhoods"
&
"Behold the Lamb...poetically!"

visit her website at:
www.maudecarolanpych.net


Saturday, November 26, 2022

"Spotless Little Lambs"

A-Poem-a-Day Until Christmas...


Image credit: catherinecgilmore.com


SPOTLESS LITTLE LAMBS


Before their drowsy eyes, during watch, last night

some shepherds witnessed a startling sight—

 

The sky came alight! There were fluttering wings

hallelujahs and so many splendored things!

 

Angelic hosts proclaimed Our Messiah’s birth

with “Fear not!” and “Glorias” and joyful mirth,

 

so this morning from that field in Bethlehem

they set off to laud the Infant Son of HaShem[1].

 

Without defect or blemish, the shepherd’s pride,

spotless little lambs trotted close by their side.

 

When the shepherds and sheep came to the birthplace

Mary and Joseph welcomed them, face to face.

 

Each shepherd bowed down before the Lamb of God;

the lambs drew close to Him; but that wasn’t odd

 

for there was a link that united them all

in God’s marvelous plan to save the world.

 

All of the lambs were destined for sacrifice—

the spotless wooly lambs and God’s Lamb, the Christ!

 

We’re grateful for the LOVE of the great I AM;

Atonement’s achieved at the Cross of His Lamb!

 

Maude Carolan Pych



[1] HaShem is one of the Hebrew names for God. It means “The Name.”

 


Friday, November 25, 2022

"Mary & Elizabeth"

A-Poem-a-Day Until Christmas...

Image credit: enews Tech


MARY & ELIZABETH

 

A young virgin

from Nazareth, was roused

by the flapping of wings

a manshape in moonbeams

and a perplexing salutation:

 

Greetings, favored one!

The Lord is with you

 

It was Gabriel

an angel sent by God

who told Mary she would conceive

and bear a boy child, Jesus—

the Son of the Most High

 

He spoke of the Holy Spirit

and overshadowing

and of her relative, Elizabeth

who though barren

conceived in her old age—

 

for nothing is impossible with God

 

Awestruck, trembling

needing to tell someone

who did Mary go to first?

Her mother? Father?

How would they receive such news?

Or did she run to her betrothed, Joseph

expecting him to understand?

 

Oh, he wanted to understand

wanted to believe, but

it was unbelievable, preposterous

So, stunned, disappointed

feeling utterly deceived, Joseph

contemplated quietly sending her away

 

Then Mary remembered the angel

had spoken of her dear cousin, Elizabeth—

Is that why Mary hurried off

on a brave trek to the hills of Judea…alone?

 

Of course, it had to be Elizabeth

aged, wise, expecting

and now acquainted, herself, with miracles

 

When Mary arrived at the home

of Zacharias and Elizabeth

Elizabeth’s unborn baby

leapt for joy! in her womb

and in a whirl of wondrous ecstasy

Elizabeth knew of Mary’s pregnancy

before being told

 

…then a psalm-like lilt of praise

sprang from Mary’s lips

extolling the great things

the Mighty One had done for her

 

Tender were the next three months

as the household awaited Elizabeth’s travail

(and the birth of John, the baptizer)

 

The women prepared their layettes

folded the swaddling clothes

shared their magnanimous miracles

and confided maternal aspirations

as their bellies swelled

 

…and I like to think

Joseph ran all the way to Judea

expressly to announce

his own angelic vision in a dream—

that he was to take Mary as his wife

and they would await

the miraculous birth of Jesus—together


Maude Carolan Pych 

Thursday, November 24, 2022

A-Poem-a-Day Until Christmas

 Wishing you a Blessed Thanksgiving Day!

Today begins

A-Poem-a-Day Until Christmas


Photo credit: pixabay


THE WINGED ONES

 

There’s a sudden swirl

of fragrance and smoke

as Zacharias tends

the temple altar of incense

Lo! A resplendent angel

appears before his eyes—

 

It is Gabriel

who stands in the presence of God

 

The winged one startles the old priest

by proclaiming—

 

Your wife, Elizabeth, will bear a son…

He will be the forerunner of Messiah

 

Astonished at the announcement

(for his wife is advanced in years)

Zacharias dares question

God’s messenger

and is duly struck dumb—

 

and will not utter another word

until the Heavenly proclamation

comes to pass

 

As grey-haired Elizabeth blossoms

with approaching motherhood

Gabriel alights again

all wings and gleam and glory

in a visit to Mary, a Nazarene maiden

He foretells that she, too, will be with child—

chosen to be the virgin mother

of the Holy Son of God—

 

Breathless, Mary runs

to Joseph, her betrothed

eager to tell of the angelic visitation

and Gabriel’s marvelous word to her

 

but it is too much for him to comprehend—

Feeling deceived and disheartened

he considers ending their engagement

 

until one night, while tossing in sleep

an angel of the Lord appears in a dream

to assure him

Mary is indeed pure and righteous—

miraculously overshadowed

by the Holy Spirit of God

 

so Joseph marries her

and together they await the coming

of the Savior of the World

 

and when that wondrous event occurs

a multitude of angels fill the Heavenlies

with most glorious splendors

The Bethlehem night becomes brilliant

startling lowly shepherds

reclining in fields with their flocks

 

and all the beautiful celestial beings

with wings and robes and gladness

proclaim good news of great joy

for all people:

 

Glory to God in the Highest—

Jesus, the Messiah, is born!


 Maude Carolan Pych



For information about ordering Maude's books

go to: www.maudecarolanpych.net


Sunday, November 20, 2022

We Thank You, Lord...

 

Photo credit: hipnewjersey.com


THANKSGIVING DAY HOMECOMING

 

She smiled as she dusted

the framed family photographs

on the old oak credenza

sang as she swept the kitchen floor

even Lysoled the bathroom bowl

with effervescence

 

Humming a favorite hymn, the woman

skillfully rolled pastry into a twelve-inch circle

adjacent to a bowl of peeled apple wedges

tossed with sugar, cinnamon, and cloves

 

Spontaneous praise to Jesus

proceeded from her lips

as she stuffed the twenty-pound turkey

trussed it tidily

rubbed it with butter and sage

and lifted it into the moderate oven

 

On the antique table linen

that had been stored away

in her mother’s cedar chest

she placed her best china, crystal, and silver

then set a wicker cornucopia

abounding with miniature pumpkins

and assorted nubby gourds, right in the center

 

Her feet ached, but her eyes sparkled—

This was among life’s highest joys

Her children and grandchildren

would soon be at the door

carrying homemade casseroles

and bringing lots of hugs and tales and laughter

and she would get to serve

Thanksgiving dinner

 

Maude Carolan Pych



Announcement:

***Beginning Thanksgiving Day

I will post a poem a day until Christmas***



www.maudecarolanpych.net