Monday, December 26, 2016

After the Birth of Jesus..

This is the final selection for

A-Poem-a-Day Until Christmas

and my Christmas poem for 2016


My friend Holly (who has a special
affinity with all things Christmas)
once gave me a picture
of Mary at the crib of Jesus—
She said the image of Mary
reminded her of one of my daughters

I framed the picture
and hung it on the wall
not because of any resemblance
to my daughter, but
because I was moved
by the striking look of anguish
upon Mary’s lovely face

This had to have been the day
Mary and Joseph went to the temple
to dedicate Jesus, the day
they offered two turtledoves
as a sacrifice for their firstborn son

Simeon was present when they came in
and knew immediately
by the power of the Holy Spirit
that this Child was
God’s promised Savior

He told Mary—
A sword will pierce your soul!

This silent night in Bethlehem
as Jesus lay sleeping
Mary lifts his tiny hand
to her trembling lips
She wonders about God’s marvelous plan
wonders how a Savior saves

and as she wonders, she feels
the point of an unseen sword
pressing against her flesh—

What did that wise old man mean?

There’s so much I do not know—
So much I do not want to know


Maude Carolan Pych

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Poem About Simeon & Anna

A-Poem-a-Day Until Christmas

Well, today is Christmas Day...
Merry Christmas!

I have one more poem of the season, to share tomorrow.

Image credit:

Image credit:


Simeon wondered
if he were seeing things
He rubbed his tired old eyes
squinted and peered again
at the little family
that came through the Temple doors

The Sanctuary
was shadowy and dim
Flames from the oil lamps
were flickering—
Were his eyes playing tricks?

Wasn’t this an ordinary family?
…a couple like any
ordinary Jewish couple
here to present their firstborn son
holy to the Lord?

Nothing special about them
Just poor folk
with two lowly turtledoves
for the sacrifice…yet?

Perhaps this was wishful thinking
Perhaps, his imagination
He needed to be sure
Simeon moved a bit closer

Oh, he’d been waiting so patiently
for the fulfillment of the promise
of the Lord to comfort Israel

He knew He would—
for the Holy Spirit
assured him
he absolutely would not die
until he beheld the Messiah
…but that was long ago

Suddenly an unmistakable quickening
began rising up in his spirit…Yes!
…O Glory! Glory!

He bounded
toward Mary and Joseph
with arms outstretched
and swooped up
their swaddled infant son
uttering prophetic proclamations
jubilant and terrifying

I behold God’s salvation!

A light to the Gentiles

The glory of God’s people Israel

and directly to Mary, he prophesied:

…a sword will pierce your soul

She shuddered…
for she knew God had a plan, but…
What could this mean?

Then the widow Anna approached
Bent and grey and pious
she was a prophetess
who dwelled in the Temple
most of her life, praying
fasting and serving the Lord
with a joyful heart

Spontaneous praise
sprang from her lips
as she beheld the babe
Then Anna proclaimed
to all who would listen:

Come and see…
This is our newborn redeemer!

…from that day forward
Jesus grew
in wisdom and grace

the Cross before Him…

…and a sword did pierce
Mary’s soul

Maude Carolan Pych

Saturday, December 24, 2016

"We've Been Waiting for a Savior..."


A-Poem-a-Day Until Christmas

Image credit:


I saw him the other day
the baby boy who lives next door
His parents are poor Hebrews, like we are
He’s swaddled the same way we swaddle our babies
and he cries and coos just like our babies do, yet—

the brightest star I’ve ever seen
shines down upon him every night
and shepherds have left their fields
just to take a look at him
exclaiming all the while
about angels singing in the sky

Really? Angels in the sky—

One day I saw wisemen from afar
dressed in finery, ride in on camels
They were bearing costly gifts to honor him
and actually bowed prostrate
before his little cradle

I met his mother at the well, yesterday
Her name is Miriam (Mary)
She told me they’ve named him, Yeshua (Jesus)

Yeshua is a fine name. It means savior
Savior. We’ve been waiting for a savior—


Maude Carolan Pych

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Christmas Poem for Children

A-Poem-a-Day Until Christmas

The following poem was written
to be read to children on Christmas Eve...

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Children, gather round. It’s time for a story,
one that’s filled with hallelujahs and glory.

It’s about the glorious night of all nights,
angels and magi and sight of all sights!

About God, a virgin, the birth of a king,
wooly sheep, poor shepherds and gift giving!

My story takes place long ago, far away
and starts with a Babe in a crib full of hay;

His mother’s a virgin, His father is God,
the birth, a miraculous Heavenly nod.

The Baby is born in a Bethlehem barn
near a few smelly animals, like on a farm.

Poor shepherds in a field shudder with fright
when suddenly the dark sky fills up with light

as beautiful angels, bright splendors winging
tell of the birth with hallelujahs and singing!

So, the shepherds and sheep the very next morn
set off to visit this special Newborn.

Rich wisemen follow a bright beaming star
to the Bethlehem barn; the journey is far.

They ride astride camels, carrying treasures
to give to the One they’ll worship forever.

Why in the world would they do such strange things?
Why travel so far? Why great treasures bring?

The reason is simple, the Babe in the hay
becomes the world’s Savior, Who takes sin away.

His name is Jesus and He loves you and me
and wants us to love Him for eternity.

That was the night of all nights here on Earth…
the wonderful story of Jesus’ birth!

Maude Carolan Pych

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Remembering Bethlehem...

In 1986, I made my first pilgrimage to Israel
on tour with Wayne Monbleau of the "Let's Talk About Jesus" radio ministry.
By the Threshing Floor of Boaz at the Shepherd's Field in Bethlehem
we sang with zealous hearts
every Christmas carol that we knew
as we watched the sun go down over the quaint little town.

A-Poem-a-Day Until Christmas

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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 this 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 very 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 greatly 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

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Gifts...Wanted & Unwanted

A-Poem-a-Day Until Christmas

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“Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly
lights, who does not change like shifting
shadows.” James 1:17

Perhaps it was a vision
or at least a vivid imagining…
It was like Christmas!
There was a great heap of presents
of various sizes,
gaily wrapped,
tied with streaming ribbons
and lustrous bows,
each with a gift tag
that bore my name.
Some presents
had already been opened,
wrappings strewn, white tissue awry,
others, wonderfully enticing,
were yet to be unwrapped.

In my spirit I knew
they were gifts of God,
the spiritual blessings
of my life.
The open ones
represented gifts already acquired.
Some bedazzled,
those, the granted yearnings
of the prayers of my heart,
others were blessings also
though never sought in prayer,
still others were gifts
I never wanted,
gifts I’d have preferred
to return or exchange.
In time I understood
each was perfect,
selected by the Source
of all wisdom
with me alone in mind,
loving graces
spiritually working in me
creating the me
I am becoming in Him.

I look to the future
wondrous gifts
still unopened.

Maude Carolan

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

We Gather with Our Loved Ones

A-Poem-a-Day Until Christmas

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She smiled as she dusted
the ceramic crèche
on the old oak credenza,
sang as she swept the kitchen floor,
even Lysoled the bathroom bowl
with effervescence.

Humming a Yuletide carol, the woman
rolled pastry into a thin rectangle
and cut cookies into shapes
of stars and angels and lambs.

Spontaneous praise 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.

She dressed the table with china and silver,
the slightly yellowed table linen
stored in her mother’s cedar chest,
and a silvery bowl of pink poinsettias
bought at the flower sale at church.

Her feet ached, but her eyes sparkled.
This was among life’s highest joys:
Her adult children would soon be at the door
bringing presents, hugs and laughter
and she would get to serve them Christmas dinner.

Maude Carolan

Monday, December 19, 2016

Coping With Loss at Christmastime

Sometimes Christmas can be difficult...
The following poem was written after the death of my husband, Leo F. Carolan, 
in 2004. 

A-Poem-a-Day Until Christmas

Image credit:


Wrote my annual Christmas poem
and sent it out as usual
well aware that anyone who didn't already know
would know even before they opened it
as soon as they saw the return address label
with just my name on it—
Included your photograph
and a few words about your passing
baby photos of Logan and Aiden
and a few words about God taketh and giveth

Shopped, pretty much as usual
except, of course, that a significant gift
was missing from my list
I gift wrapped and set up the crèche
and a few decorations
baked cookies—
shortbread, chippers
anise biscotti, sugar cookie stars
Packed tins to mail
and give and have on hand
I'd glance at the empty chair
and miss you sitting there, smiling
as I rolled out dough
and sang O Holy Night way off key

Received lots of cards
and lots of notes and phone calls
from people stunned
by the news in my letter

Beth and Evert invited me to spend
the day before Christmas Eve with them
before they flew to Miami
with Logan to visit Evert's mom

On Christmas Eve I went to Beth Israel
to celebrate the birth of Messiah
Gave Pastor Jonathan his tin of cookies
then headed south on the Parkway
after midnight so I could be
at Kristin and Randy's in time
to see Aiden's eyes light up his first
Christmas morning

Over the next few days
I visited my sister and brother
Aunt Carol and friends

Kevin and Omayra invited me
to spend a quiet New Year's Eve
Tearless, pensive, I lifted a glass
to ring out the old, ring in new
I slept in the guest-room
We sat around the table in our bathrobes
New Year's Day morning, eating
buttered panetone with glazed chestnuts
We drove to The City to see a play
ate in a deli that charged holiday prices
and toured Ground Zero on foot

it was over
I got through it

without going to pieces

Maude Carolan

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The First Christmas Presents

The Poetry & Music event at the ANT Bookstore & Cafe in Clifton, yesterday, was outstanding! The featured poetry, the music, the open, the festive treats and the wonderful holiday spirit in the room was filled with joy and goodwill toward men. Thank you to James Gwyn & Victoria Warne for arranging the event. Thank you to Pastor EJ Emerson and Sister Jane Abeln, SMIC, for reading along with me. Thank you to Maria Esteves for videotaping. Thank you to all who came to enjoy the festivities. It was, indeed, an evening to remember!

A-Poem-a-Day Until Christmas

Photo credit:


Cosmic wonders, whats and whys
whirl in the East
as a singular mysterious luminary
beckons in the heavens
Is it brighter than the other stars?
Does it pulsate? Does it bounce?
Does it shoot across the sky
like a flame-tailed comet?
Does its lustrous splendor
rival the glow of the moon?

Gentile magi who study stars and Scripture
see it and curiously mount their camels
to follow it across the desert. But, why?
They say they are seeking
the King of the Jews. Why would they?
They say they want to worship Him
Why Him?
What do they know that the High Priest
the Pharisees, Sadducees
and all the Jews of Jerusalem
who are awaiting the coming of Messiah
do not comprehend?

King Herod summons them, diabolically
Feigns sincere interest in their mission
urges them to return with details
so he, too, may worship the King
A sinister plot forms in his evil mind
for even he knows…
there is something about that star…

Continuing on
the irresistible starlight shines ahead
until it shimmers above a humble house
in the village of Bethlehem
It stops, still…absolutely still
The magi realize they are at
destiny's door
They knock
and are welcomed, when

their eyes behold
a Boy Child
and their hearts leap!!!

and whether it makes sense or not
(whether any of this makes sense or not)
the magi, in rich array
fall prostrate
on the earthen floor
and fill the little house
with hallelujahs!!!

They draw from their saddlebags, treasures…
          Gold…for surely this little family can use it
          Myrrh…fragrant foreshadow of suffering
          Frankincense…for a sensing in the depths
          of their God-given wisdom
          of a significant anointing
          somewhere in time

Mission complete
the gift bearers mount their camels
and still attentive to God's spirit
(this time in a dream)
do not return to Herod

The magi…
diligent seekers who found
infinitely more valuable
than the precious gifts they bore

Maude Carolan Pych