Sunday, December 24, 2006

Triptych for Christmas Eve

Those who live their lives in cities may not know the sharp crystal of a winter night.
The solitude of soul.
The sentience of sky and landscape.
The sound of silence.

The power of candlelight, lanternlight, firelight, against that cold and silver velvet.

The power of a blazing star.

In the bleak midwinter
Frosty winds made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;

Snow had fallen...
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter

Long ago.

- Heaven Cannot Hold Him, Christina Rossetti.

T'was in the moon of wintertime
When all the birds had fled,
That mighty Gitche Manitou

Sent angel choirs instead.
Before their light the stars grew dim
And wondering hunters heard the hymn...

The Huron Carol, Jean de Brebeuf, c. 1643, sung to Jesous Ahatonhia.

Then be ye glad,
Good people,
This night of all the year.
And light ye up ye candles,
For His star it shineth clear.

-old carol from the Coventry Plays, c. 1400.


Erik Ivan James said...

I don't live in the cities. I know of the sharp crystal of a winter night. I know of the solitude of soul.

I also know that you are a beautiful person, Bernita, Dear Gal.

Merry Christmas.


Bernita said...

Thank you, Erik.

You "Good People" have been a gift to me every day of this year.

December Quinn said...

Merry Christmas, Bernita, you lovely woman.

kmfrontain said...

Lovely photo. Merry Christmas, Bernita.

Bernita said...

All joy to your world, December. Thank you.

Happy Christmas, Karen.

Bailey Stewart said...

You've touched me more than you can know. I came by to wish you a Merry Christmas and I found a gift. I was feeling mother's loss from the moment I woke up this morning, restless and melancholy. Then I came here and there it was - like mom saying "Hello, I'm here." You see, In the Bleak Midwinter was mother's favorite carol, especially the last verse. I hadn't heard it this year. Thank you Bernita.

EA Monroe said...

Merry Christmas and Happy Yule, Bernita! May joy and good tidings bless you and your loved ones!

Thank you for the lovely Carols this morning and thank you for being here every day of the year (even when you sneaked off to the book fair you still let us come in and party!).

Bless you, Bernita. ~ Liz

Bernita said...

Ah, Bailey, what can I say?
Except reach out a cyber hand and wish you "tidings of comfort...".
My brave little mother is gone too.

All joys and blessings to you and yours this Christmastide, Liz.
Thank you.

Ric said...

Merry Christmas Eve. What a beautiful picture this morning, as I look out on our faded green grass.

Bailey's comment reminded me that out little group of bloggers are a wide circle of friends. Friends who tend to touch us all in unexpectd and delightful ways. The quiet encouragement just when the rejection letters get too much. The "I can beat this thing!" attitude. And, lest we forget, making Bonnie blush.

Thank you all.

Anonymous said...

Bernita, we wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Ric, Steve.
The best gifts are the unexpected ones.
"God rest you, merry Gentlemen, let nothing you dismay."

Ballpoint Wren said...

Merry Christmas, Dear Bernita!

I want to thank you for all the lovely posts you've given us this year. I may not always have something to offer by way of participation, but I do enjoy the wordplay and your sense of humor.

Merry Christmas!


raine said...

I've done both city and country living--and much preferred the country. You're quite right. There is a timeless depth to the stillness, a magic about a light in that darkenss.

Thank you, Bernita, for having such an illuminating blog.

A Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Bernita said...

Thank you, dear Bonnie and Raine.
A joyous Noel to you both.

Anonymous said...

Warmest wishes this Christmas to you and your family, Bernita.

Cynthia Bronco said...

Beautiful, Bernita! I remember living in the Poconos and the trees bent over with ice, thinking of Frost's "Birches."
Merry Christmas!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jason, and the same to you and yours.

Merry, Merry Christmas, Cynthia.

ORION said...

Mele Kalikimaka from your blogger friend from Hawaii

Bernita said...

How nice, Orion.
God Jul!

ruby55 said...

I've just come from another blog which gave us the last verse of "In the bleak midwinter", a verse that I wholeheartedly endorse.

And I was especially thrilled to see a verse from the Huron Carol here. It was a carol that I had never heard--at least not consciously--until I, who had grown up in Manitoba, and lived 10 years in Germany--a time when the rest of my family moved to Ontario--came home and first heard this beautiful carol. It became even more haunting and meaningful when I visited my sister who moved close to Ste.-Marie-among-the-Hurons, ON. Thank you so much for reminding me of it today. I spent about 12 hours with her and her family this year not far from Coldwater.

I do know what these nights can be like. Though we've never lived away from a city entirely, we did live on the periphery of one where we experienced the sharply cold winter nights in which the moon and stars were reflected on the ice covering trees and ground. Sometimes that heralded an early morning in which the sun's light, (I first wrote "the son's light" which I also think apropos) was increased in brilliance by those same ice-covered surfaces. I can see the sight in my mind's eye.

Thank you for reminding me of the happiness and awe that accompanied these occasions.

P.S. I didn't know of the connection between the carol and the title of "Heaven Cannot Hold Him". "In the bleak midwinter" is so seldom sung--perhaps because we now know that it gives a false picture of a mid-eastern night. But o what a beautiful last verse. I must find the whole poem, so thanks for giving the source.

ruby55 said...

And you are right about the unexpected gifts. This year has been very hard on me as it has been on Bailey, but in a different way. Since my mother had to go into permanent care because I could no longer handle it, I've had few if any presents. I didn't mind that because I had my siblings and their families. This relationship suffered a big blow a little over a year ago though it is on the mend. Therefore the wealth of gifts, both in understanding and compassion--and even in goods--that have come my way just lately have been overwhelming. They have been such a surprise and a balm to the soul that I believe came from God's hands. I have so much to be thankful for this year going into the new year and I feel very blessed.

I wish all of you equal or greater blessings. May God give you what *you* need.

And Bailey, thanks for leading me to this site.

Bernita said...

Merry Christmas, Ruby, and thank you for coming by.
I have never thought of it as a "false" picture, rather an illustration of how the same epiphany translated to a different climate, a different landscape.
A universality.

The drum beat in the Huron Carol is yet another.

Rhea said...

I live in the city but love the country. I try to get out of Boston often.