By Jim O'Leary
An e-mail newsletter for and about Waverly people, used with permission in the HLW Herald and on this web site.
Dec. 30, 2002
The holiday season is among us
I worked with Father Mele when he was a Navy Chaplain stationed in Corpus Christi.
He sent me this for Christmas, recalling a memory of Albuquerque I can share with you.
My niece Mary O'Leary Sloan, John and Jean's daughter, lives in Albuquerque with her two daughters, Fiona and Maeve, so I saw what he saw when I was in Albuquerque, but I was unable to put it into words. I am glad he did.
"In the historic heart of Albuquerque, now called Old Town, low adobe buildings stand facing a common ground, the original town square.
Each year on Christmas Eve their flat roofs are lined with luminaria: small brown paper bags, each weighted with sand and holding a burning candle, whose light glows golden against the midnight sky.
"Standing in the center of Old Town Square on this silent and holy night, one is surrounded by a halo of light. It is a beacon for the lost, beauty for the brokenhearted, comfort to those chilled by grief or guilt or shame.
"In the deepest part of the night, the light embraces all who gather outside the door of the church and await the dawn of redeeming grace.
"When Christmas day is dawning, there is no need of glowing luminarias. The buildings of Old Town are pink with morning light, all darkness banished by the advent of the sun.
"Yet, by the light of day we face the truth that nights of fear remain. We admit that sickness and sorrow still abound, that some are filled with good things, while others are sent away empty, that nations are at war, and death knocks always at life's door.
"Into our nights of fear God speaks light. Into the darkness of death God speaks life. Into a wounded world God speaks Jesus. We who receive him become children of God, bearing witness to the Light who comes with grace for all people.
"Like the luminaria, we are illuminated from within by the presence of Christ. Loving one another with the love we first received from God, we declare, 'The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.'
"More than two thousand years after the Light came into the World, we live in a nation on the verge of war, a nation still troubled by prejudice and discrimination of untold varieties, and in a church whose people, clergy, and laity alike, are wounded and wearied.
"As we await the dawn of a new Christmas, can there be any doubt of the urgent and crying need for the life and light that only the Lord of Light can lavish upon us?"
Fr. Tom Mele
The following is a collection of holiday thoughts and ideas given to me by friends. I thought you'd enjoy it. Merry Christmas.
Journey of the Magi
"A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter."
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: we were led all that way for Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen Birth and Death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and Bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
My Christmas prayer
May this Christmas be for you the most restless, peace-less Christmas you've ever known.
I pray that in the dark and quiet early hours of Christmas morning, you'll find yourself standing all alone, driven nearly to despair, wondering what Christmas is all about.
Then, and perhaps only then, will the real meaning of Christmas, the real meaning of God-become-human, truly be born, for your sake and for the sake of our one, broken, and wounded world.
Tom Mele, Christmas 2002
The computer's first Christmas carol
Jollymerry, hollyberrry, jollyberry, merryholly, happyjolly, jollyjelly, jellybelly, bellymerry, hollyheppy, jollyMolly, marryJerry, merry-Harry, hoppyBarry, heppyJarry, boppyheppy, berryjorry, jorryjolly, moppyjelly, Mollymerry, Jerryjolly, bellyboppy, jorryhoppy, hollymoppy, Barrymerry, Jarryhappy, happyboppy, boppyjolly, jollymerry, merrymerry, merrymerry, merryChris, ammerryasa, Chriserry, asmerrychr, ysanthemum.
Edwin Morgan, 1968
Colonel issues orders for Christmas Eve
To: All Military Personnel
Subject: Official Command Visit
This office has been informed of an official visit by Gen. Santa Claus to this base on 25 December.
The following directives will govern activities of personnel during this visit:
1. No creatures will stir without official permission. This will include all native mice. Special stirring permits will be obtained through the orderly room.
2. Personnel will settle their brains for a long winter nap prior to 2200 hours. Uniform for nap: pajamas, cotton, light drowsing, with kerchief, general purpose.
3. Personnel will utilize standard ration sugarplums to dance through their heads. This item may be picked up in the orderly room.
4. Stockings, wool, cushion sole, will be hung by the chimneys with care. Necessary safety precautions will be taken to avoid fires.
Individual sections will submit stocking-hanging plans to Capt. Kringle by 0800 hours, 22 December.
5. At first sign of clatter from lawn, all personnel will spring from their beds to investigate and evaluate cause. Immediate action will be taken to tear open shutters and throw open window sashes.
6. Volunteers are needed to drive one sleigh, miniature, and eight (8) deer, rein, tiny, for use of Gen. Claus. Driver must have current roof-top license.
7. Gen Claus will enter all sections through chimneys. Sections without chimneys will draw a Chimney Simulator from Link Services for use during ceremonies. Requests must be submitted in triplicate prior to 20 December.
8. All personnel will be rehearsed in shouting "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night." This shout will be given upon termination of Gen. Claus' visit. Uniformity of shouting is the responsibility of all section chiefs.
Signed, Ebenezer Scrooge, Colonel, USAF Commander
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