Christmas Lament

Reader Meghan Lin wrote to say, “I don’t comment much at all, but I’m a huge fan of your blog and its awesome community. I wrote this about the recent tragedy, because I process grief by writing poetry. And I just wanted to send it to you. That’s all.”

Attached was Meghan’s poem Christmas Lament. Having read it I wanted to share it.

Christmas Lament

To the baby Jesus:

You, who gave yourself in

soft flesh,

helpless and grateful

to live in that singularly

limited and tender and

fragile and

infinite prism we call

a human life,

to suffer our pains and

rejoice in our rejoicings,

to eat and drink and sleep

and grow weary,

to give of yourself freely

to the very end,

surrendering your living nerves and

brittle limbs to the caustic lash,

the breaking hammer,

the slow choke,

to finally expire

blessing your torturers

and then

to rise again,

banishing death and

offering hope -

To you, Blessed One,

I bring tribute,

my hands full of my

shattered wealth, nothing left but

tears and words and

questions my tongue can’t pronounce, and

a list

of twenty-eight names,

twenty of them the bubbling,

musical names of children,

babies like yourself,

tender and soft and broken and

infinite,

leaking through my fingers

like sand, lost.

I bring you

the absence of laughter

on the playground,

and the pencil stubs

and fractured crayons

abandoned on the floor.

I bring you the

phantom hugs and

slippery kisses

missing now from the days.

I bring you the

little bodies, who touched

and tasted and

squabbled and reached and

stumbled and now

lie still.

I bring you hopes

and dreams, severed from

their timeline, tied and

floating freely like a

bouquet of bright helium balloons.

I bring you the parents,

spirits riven,

itching to peel their skin off,

to be someone else,

something else,

anything else.

I bring you the inarticulate

keening of a people

heartbroken and confused,

which cannot rise even

from the dust

so weighted is it with grief

choking on its own sorrow.

There are no words to explain this.

There is no prayer to pray.

I have nothing of value to give and so

I bring this

worthless poem

barbed with anger, mangled,

parched, unyielding and

unlovely,

whispered for all who suffer and die

and are silenced too soon.

I come, a ragged and

impoverished mourner, and

I lay these shards at your feet.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Marinaa Lawson via Facebook

    that last section made me cry … i know it touched the heart of God!

  • charles

    very touching….

  • Vanda Law via Facebook

    Wow. No more words needed.

  • Maggie Walker via Facebook

    Beautiful – it speaks what many of us are feeling but can’t put into words.

  • http://www.christenhansel.wordpress.com Christen

    I had chills reading stanza after stanza–she touched the grief so palpably. Thank you for sharing it, helping us draw closer to the mourners in compassion.

  • Tina Badger via Facebook

    Beautiful and fitting

  • http://www.facebook.com/gwendolyn.drake.3 Gwendolyn Drake via Facebook

    Yes, extremely fine….

  • Lianne Giammarino McMahan via Facebook

    Oh my. Just when I think I cannot cry another tear…

  • kat

    WOW – Like Marinaa said – “I know it touched the heart of God” .

  • Dave Bowling

    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing this heartfelt expression of all our feelings at this time.

    • Lymis

      Amen!

  • Janet

    I thought I was through crying. I was wrong.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

      I still choke every time I see a picture of one of those children, especially the boys. Because, I spose, I had and still have two boys, now both military officers, one conservative, one liberal.

      Last Friday early afternoon I switched on my TV to MSNBC, turned to walk away to my kitchen and make some tea when the words stopped me in mid stride, physically turned me back to the TV stunned and instantly choked up. My whole body wrenched and tears flowed so profusely I could barely see the screen. How was this possible?! And so it was, all that day and the next.

      I work part time at a Sam’s Club doing those food samples and was there that next day and every child I saw reminded me…..There were moments I had to get a grip even there. I thot of my own two boys and of how fortunate I was to have raised them in a time before all this, but also of the one who has three young daughters. More conservative, he is against current gun control politics. What could he be thinking now?

      I don’t know. We don’t discuss it. Politics nearly destroyed our relationship in the past. I wonder how much of THAT is happening to our society now. Yet, how dare we avoid it. This issue is indeed tearing at the fabric of our nation.

  • David S

    Meghan -

    This is devastating. It speaks my heart in a way I couldn’t articulate this advent season. I am waiting for sanity and peace. Thank you for writing this stunning piece, and thank you more for sharing it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.sinclair.129 David Sinclair via Facebook

    Read and shared.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sue.t.wille Sue Tathwell Wille via Facebook

    I agree with Vanda – Exquisitely said.

  • http://vimeo.com/wgeorgecook William Cook

    I just recreated Niagara Falls from my eyes

  • Valreia Cox

    You give words to our grief… Thank you

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

    Tear wrenchingly gorgeous.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

    I copied it to my facebook page with credit to you, of course via John’s blog. I trust you don’t mind.

  • Karen Bunn via Facebook

    All amazing, but this part so raw and good and what I imagine it feels like:

    I bring you the parents,
    spirits riven,
    itching to peel their skin off,
    to be someone else,
    something else,
    anything else.

  • skip johnston

    Beautiful. Thanks.

  • Janie Rager via Facebook

    Whoa…..that was incredible.

  • Christine McQueen

    Having spent most of the last week in tears over this, one might think I would have better sense than to read this poem. So now I am once again sitting here with tears streaming down my face.

  • Nancy Caroline Deatrick via Facebook

    Thank you John… This needed to be shared as we mourn together…

  • Christy

    Dear Meghan,

    Like the Divine and Love, Pain too is ineffable, though you have done more than justice to them all here with your words.

    Sometimes writing poetry is the only thing that makes sense.

    Blessings on your journey and for sharing your gift with us. As we are all connected in this grief, may it help us heal.

  • Kerry

    This is the only thing that has helped lift my sadness. It keeps updating – click on “Read More” to see older ones – look for the one about white tulips (that one has stuck with me). http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/18/15999109-if-you-do-good-youll-feel-good-ann-curry-explains-origins-of-26acts-of-kindness?lite

    • Meghan

      THAT is lovely, Kerry. Thank you for sharing that, I hadn’t seen it. Such a beautiful response.

  • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

    Thank you for your beautiful and haunting poem, Meghan. Blessings to you.

  • Meghan

    I’m Meghan the author. I just wanted to say that I’m touched that so many were touched by this, especially in a community that I respect so much. You all write so much all the time to inspire and minister and challenge, I’m always blessed when you’re willing to share your thoughts and struggles here. And thanks always to John for creating this spiritual online home for so many.

    • roger flyer

      So lovely, Meghan. I shared on my Facebook page. Roger Flyer. I just was so moved by your poem.

    • Jill H

      Sometimes we feel too alone in our grief, then words of common feeling and compassion draw us a little closer together. It may never feel like it’s ever going make sense again, and then others come in to share that space with us, and we can begin to feel like the moment can be enough…for now.

      Your words bind us together to comfort each other, Meghan. That is always a gift. Thank you.

    • DR

      It is stunning. Thank you.

  • Laura Poffenberger

    Your poem is a prayer expressed so profoundly…thank you for not keeping it to yourself.

  • roger flyer

    Oh my. Obliged, John and Meghan.

  • Carol B.

    You have reached into our hearts and spoken the agony of our souls. Thank you for so eloquently helping us to name our grief and sorrow. You are, to me, and instrument in beginning the process of healing – once again…..Thank you seems not enough….

  • Laurie

    It’s absolutely beautiful-thank you so much for sharing this with us.


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