Maya Angelou is a great American poet. A few years ago at a Christmas tree lighting at the White House, she read a poem written for the occasion.
It is called Amazing Peace.
Here’s what it said:
Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Floodwaters wait in our avenues.
Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over protected villages.
The sky slips low and gray and threatening.
We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We interrogate and worry God.
Are you there? Are you there, really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?
Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.
It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Floodwaters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.
Hope is born again in the faces of the children.
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth, brightening all things,
Even hate, which crouches breeding in dark corridors.
In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.
We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our loves and beloveds and their beloveds.
We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait awhile with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you to stay awhile with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.
It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.
At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of
We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Nonbelievers,
Look heavenward ands speak the word aloud.
We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
We look at each other, then into ourselves,
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation:
Peace, My Brother
Peace, My Sister
Peace, My Soul.
As I reread this poem, several things impress me.
She says this is the season of hope and peace. My experience is that we intentionally choose to be hopeful and we intentionally work for peace. They don’t just happen.
She reminds us to highlight the blessing. To pray for peace. To look for peace. As she starts the poem she reminds us of storms, floods and difficulties of life. But, in the midst of all this, comes a message of hope and peace. We are a blessed people, working in a blessed company, living in a blessed country. We often let difficulties and the worries of the day cover the blessings which are bestowed on us. The blessing blends into the difficulties and remains transparent to us.
Maya Angelou’s poem raises up the notion that this is no season for blending the blessing. It is Christmas. Count your blessings and highlight them.
To my Brothers and Sisters in the PalletOne Family: Peace to You! Merry Christmas!