Who Is It That We’re Waiting For? A Clanging Carol

Who Is It That We’re Waiting For? A Clanging Carol November 26, 2018

Who is it that we’re looking for, when we sing

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed …

Who is that baby we think is coming

To sleep so soundly, so content in his poverty and

Unbelonging?

 

Who are we thinking of, in all those refrains of

Noel and Angels We Have Heard on High?  

Who is that child who so unobtrusively slips into the night

So as not to disrupt our ugly sweater party, or Black Friday, or the

Empire?

 

The Empire that greets migrant children with

A parade of guns and a cloud of tear gas?

The march of Herod’s troops as they chase the unwelcome

Off into the night, singing Joy to the World and What Child is

This?

A migrant family runs away from tear gas in front of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Tijuana.

What child is this, indeed, who comes to find sanctuary

In a kingdom that fills its Decembers with

Parades and presents, and elves on shelves leaving

Treats and mischief, because it is all so damn

Magical.

 

We make it magical. It’s all about the children,

Of course. To see their faces light up,

Cast in the glow of our candles, held high as we sing

Silent Night, and shed a tear at the beauty of it all, this night so

Holy.

 

This O-so-Holy-night, this Midnight Clear

This Little Town of Bethlehem—strikes a dissonant tone

In a land that idolizes childhood but brutalizes children.

To sing of angel choirs, as we chase children back into the punishing

desert.

 

Who is it that we think we’re waiting for?

Some white baby in a Gap sweater.

A child who will lay his head in a Pottery Barn-perfect nursery.

A holy family straight from a Hallmark card. Noel, Noel,

Noel.

 

To sing of gentle Mary, pure and lowly.

Pure as the driven snow; so holy, holy, holy.

And to rip babies from their mother’s arms

As they flee the terror of Caesar,

Again.

 

We are waiting for someone to save us from

These winter frozen hearts, and these wretched

Border walls making prisoners of us all. This

Unresolved chord hangs over us, a light in outer

Darkness.

 

O come, o come, Emmanuel. Fight your way

Through our rubber bullets, our poisoned air.

Let your stinging eyes and gasping breath and bruised,

Beaten body bring something that might save us from

Ourselves.

 

O come, O come, Emmanuel. We’ll sing it again

Deserving or not. We lift this clanging carol into

The toxic night sky, not knowing who we sing to

Or wait for or seek. O come, Emmanuel. God with

Us.

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