Not wise ones, not foreign, exotic and learned;
but shepherds unnamed, keeping watch in the fields;
impure and unclean, outsiders, at best;
some scorn them, and say
they are robbers.
Not great men, prestigious, important and powerful;
but common folk, forced to be on the move;
back to his home town, seeking their refuge,
a place of safety, where she
No gold for the king, nor frankincense pure,
no myrrh as a sign of suffering to come;
but the stench of the sheep, the dirt of the fields,
the news of the angels—of peace,
No grand cosmic vision of word and eternity,
but stable and manger, the rupture of waters
and shedding of blood; a birthing, a crying
piercing the air: now mother
Although long expected, so deeply yearned for,
it was not impressive, nor was it grand,
but coming in flesh in a backwater place
to an unknown family at night?
And where would this lead her?
And what fate awaits him?
In ways unforeseen, with a radical cry,
provoking, confronting, disturbing, evoking
the kingdom of God, upturning
John Squires, December 2020
The earliest Western Madonna and Child, from the Book of Kells, at the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew. c. 800