The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is often a bit of a let-down, a limbo that has a diminished glow of the Christmas celebrations, but is not yet the full resumption of everyday duties that will begin in earnest after New Year’s. This is more particularly true if we have had a deep spiritual experience in revisiting the meaning of the birth of Christ, or even a rich re-connection with our families. The aftermath is an anti-climax.
As I thought about this, I tried to imagine what it was like for the shepherds after the first flush of the Nativity Night, when they were chosen to be the first witnesses of the Incarnation. The days immediately afterward must have been full of the telling of what had happened to them, but I can imagine that as time went on, they needed something more than the thrill of relating those spectacular events. It’s that maturing of realization that I wanted to depict in the following poem.
After Immersion in Glory
First flush of Glory faded now,
How shall we return to our flocks?
Having eagerly reflected the Light received,
Having believed the angel’s words
And seen the unlikely Babe
Born in a barn,
How now to fit that flash
With tedious tasks resumed
In nights as dark as ever?
The word we heard
Burst in on reality,
A pregnant pause in vacuous vigils,
Now duller made
By memory of angels’ song.
And yet a remnant of light is left,
No more in arching, starry sky,
But seeded in ourselves.
How now to deal with Word
Not merely heard and told,
Time suspended transmutes
To time extended;
Shadowed Glory puts out shoots
From roots of all that we have seen.
The fields about are still the same,
But we are fertile soil
To grow the Glory
That will not fade.
--Elton D. Higgs
Dec. 29, 2015