Friday, December 24, 2004

The Prophecy

When Herod saw he had been tricked by the wise men he was in a furious rage and killed all the male children in the Bethlehem region that were two years old or under.

He said his first word today.
Daada - he smiled, clear as can be.
I picked him up and hugged him tightly
"Be a good boy till your Dad gets back".

I thought of Fatherhood all morning in the fields.
It was nearly Spring. I felt the green shoot stirring in the earth beneath my feet and the shy sun shining on my face.
"Life is beautiful" I said and sang the songs of Zion as I ploughed.

Tilling the dark earth as my father did before me, I knew he was not dead, but he lived on in me
as I'll live on in my son when his hands hold this plough and till this land.

Then the beauty of my dreams was broken. I heard the distant scream of women and the brutal shout of foreign men.

Swords in the sunlight, fear and anger in my stomach.
I ran, heart racing, but the blood ran faster.
When I arrived they left in clouds of dust and clanks of armour. Only the smell of horses remained and the slow seep of blood, staining the women's clothing where they held the limp forms cradled in their arms.

I wept great sobs of black, despairing grief.
He was my only child and sinless as the morning sun.
How can I pray in this dark void?
How can I start to believe You care or understand?

But in the silence Heaven wept for Time would
circle to this point again
a father would be racked with pain,
another son, more innocent, would die.

And far from distant in grief's hour
God's own death would prove fatal to death's power.


(c) A McN


If ever there was an antidote to the saccharine, sanitised commercial versions of Christmas it is this episode recorded in the gospels. As a father I found this hard to write. There is a bitter irony that even the ultimate gift to humanity can be so misconstrued as to result not in rejoicing but in heartache and pain.

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