Monticello Christmas Eve

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My friend Belle gave me a wonderful Christmas last year. On Christmas morning she cooked a fantastic English breakfast for me and pulled presents from under her tree with my name on them. Before Christmas day, however, she gave me a wonderful Christmas Eve.

She drove us out to Monticello, New Mexico where friends of hers host a fabulous Christmas Eve potluck every year. Before the nice people and the delicious food, we went to a service at the tiny town’s Catholic Church.

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Sunset over San Ignacio Catholic Church in Monticello, NM

I’m what’s called a lapsed Catholic. I grew up Catholic, but haven’t practiced the religion since I was a teenager. I think prior to last year, my previous attendance at a mass was near the end of the 20th century. But on Christmas Eve 2015, I found myself attending mass in San Ignacio Catholic Church, a historic adobe built in 1867.

The place was packed. Everyone in the community seemed to be there.

When the priest took the pulpit for the sermon, he said he was going to read a poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. WHAT? I can tell you, I never experienced a Catholic priest of my youth get up in front of a congregation and read the work of any bohemian poet. The poem the priest in Monticello read is called “Christ Climbed Down.”

CHRIST CLIMBED DOWN

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
there were no rootless Christmas trees
hung with candycanes and breakable stars

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
there were no gilded Christmas trees
and no tinsel Christmas trees
and no tinfoil Christmas trees
and no pink plastic Christmas trees
and no gold Christmas trees
and no black Christmas trees
and no powderblue Christmas trees
hung with electric candles
and encircled by tin electric trains
and clever cornball relatives

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
no intrepid Bible salesmen
covered the territory
in two-tone cadillacs
and where no Sears Roebuck crèches
complete with plastic babe in manger
arrived by parcel post
the babe by special delivery
and where no televised Wise Men
praised the Lord Calvert Whiskey

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
no fat handshaking stranger
in a red flannel suit
and a fake white beard
went around passing himself off
as some sort of North Pole saint
crossing the desert to Bethlehem
Pennsylvania
in a Volkswagen sled
drawn by rollicking Adirondack reindeer
with German names
and bearing sacks of Humble Gifts
from Saks Fifth Avenue
for everybody’s imagined Christ child

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
no Bing Crosby carolers
groaned of a tight Christmas
and where no Radio City angels
iceskated wingless
thru a winter wonderland
into a jinglebell heaven
daily at 8:30
with Midnight Mass matinees

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and softly stole away into
some anonymous Mary’s womb again
where in the darkest night
of everybody’s anonymous soul
He awaits again
an unimaginable
and impossibly
Immaculate Reconception
the very craziest
of Second Comings

The poem blew me away! What would Jesus do, indeed.

I wasn’t touched by the Lord or the Holy Spirit that night. I didn’t have a religious reawakening. I didn’t embrace my Catholic upbringing and run back into the arms of the church. I was touched by Ferlinghetti’s poem, was glad to hear it read in a church by a man of the cloth. I was also touched by the love and comradery exhibited by the people in the church when it came time to offer each other a sign of peace.

After mass we went to the potluck, where I was touched by the love and comradery of food. After stuffing ourselves with deliciousness, we rode off into a cold New Mexico night topped by a sky sprinkled with a million stars.

 

 

About Blaize Sun

I live in my van, which makes me a rubber tramp. I like to see places I’ve never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again.

I like to play with color. I make collages and hemp jewelry and cheerful winter hats. I take photographs and (sometimes, not in a long time) write poetry. All of those things make me an artist.

Although I like to spread joy and to make people laugh, my wit can be sharp. I try to stay positives in all situations, to find the goodness in all people. But I often feel compelled to point out bullshit when I smell it.

I like to have fun, to dance, to eat yummy food, to sit by a fire and share stories. I want to know what people hold dear and important, not just make surface small talk.

This blog is a way for me to share stories. This blog is made up of my stories, rants, and observations, as well as my photographs.

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