Gathering Stars

Wishing everyone a Blessed Christmas and offering you this poem from decades ago.

May you be filled with the wonder of God Among Us – for the Word of God, the Lord of the Universe, was made Flesh for each and every one of you, for your healing redemption and eternal joy…

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

Gathering Stars

My mother gathers stars. 

She arranges the glowing orbs

my father has placed

upon the frosty boughs of a spruce tree

Standing on the aluminum ladder,

gleaming silver in the early dark,

She leans into the light

of the newly Christmassed tree,

Her face serenely concentrating and illuminated

as if by the warmly rising sun

and not the crisp sparks of  electricity.

My mother gathers the stars

and sets their light to shine in beauty and hope,

with work coarsened hands that fear not the cold,

a gentle motion, a light touch.

 

And as the stars curve and rise by her whim,

I sit back from afar

and watch Creation take shape.

I breathe vapor puffs

as I sing “O, Holy Night” in whisper,

and the starry tree softens behind the misty veil,

like thin clouds over the moon.

Then, I drive my electric wheelchair forward,

coming up close to the tree

until its green branches

are like arms opened wide to receive

my crumpled self.

Encompassed in its bright height and form,

I close my eyes halfway, until I’m seeing through my lashes,

then the tree disappears

and only my mother’s stars are visible,

suspended in the chilled air around me.

The shining spheres glitter before me,

and I am in the infinite universe,

floating with the golden stars

suspended as they are in the cool dark space,

independent and brightly casting their brilliant sparkle.

I smile in joyful glee,

momentarily break the spell,

and invite my mother to share my discovery

of a new and fantastic world.

 

But, she has no time for childish amusement,

she has the important task

of gathering stars at hand

and setting their light to shine in just the right inch of this universe

(of whose glory I make bold to claim discovery).

I smirk at her business efficiency,

and return to the wonders of a dip in the night sky.

Yet, how can a mere mortal like me possibly comprehend

the majesty of a mother who gathers stars?

 

While moving her ladder from one polar point to another,

she stops and takes a moment

to tuck my fingers into the scarf on my lap,

so my cold hands touch under the wool,

and the two intertwined give warmth to each other,

on a freezing December night when the heavens themselves are moved.

© 2016 Christina Chase

6 thoughts on “Gathering Stars

  1. I love this poem! I feel like I have been given a gift just by reading it. Merry Christmas my cousin by birth and friend by choice xo. I love you.

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  2. Yet, how can a mere mortal like me possibly comprehend
    the majesty of a mother who gathers stars?

    Indeed; comprehend no, but experience, yes. Wise words Christina,
    Thank you and have a good feast en famille.

    Will & Co.

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  3. Thank you, Christina, for this beautiful moment. And it is so right that in your world, whether this one is imaginative or actual (it doesnt matter in a poem, does it; they’re both real there), the family chooses a tree outside to decorate.

    It is customary that many homes display colorful lights on bushes and porches. Even on trunks of trees, as my next door neighbor did this year. But it doesnt seem to be an FAMILY ritual ; suddenly the lights appear up and down the block. I see individuals on ladders hànging lights, but I haven’t seen groups of children and parents enjoying the process and sharing the inspiration the way you describe it. That tradition is carried on in the privacy of a home.

    But doing that outside is so appropriate. That’s where the original Christmas event occurred in the Gospel story (well, almost outside), and that’s where one can experience both the mystery of creation and a sense of common worship–the whole neighborhood can at least observe and maybe even walk over or stop their cars and join in the spirit silently and reverently.

    I’m doing that now as I re-read and reflect. The phrase that makes this poem more than your personal experience, memorable as it is, but also one that applies to me, to all of us, ( as the the deleted pronoun and bracketed article emphasizes) is this one:

    green branches
    like arms opened wide to receive
    [a] crumpled self.

    There are other powerful lines, but this one really does it for me because I have never been encouraged– until now–to connect the mystery of God in the flesh with my own “brokenness,” if I may use a rather overused-by-now phrase. Holy Week and Easter/Pascha emphasize that, but Christmas has always seemed disconnected from suffering or loss or inability to match a public standard –of goodness, as I interpret the the poem , but of actual experience on the other, which is what the poem is really about.

    I hope you dont mind comments like this. I dont mean to distract from or diminish the unique elements of the setting. It is a powerful poem on that level alone. I wanted you to know how those elements can reverberate and take on additional meanings as well.

    Peace & prayers,

    Albert

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    • Mind? I LOVE that you are reflecting with me – thank you, Albert! You know, I wrote this poem over 20 years ago, but rereading it several times before I posted it here, I started to notice some of the deeper levels of the poem that I hadn’t noticed before – that I don’t think I even intended when I originally wrote it. God is truly present in every moment of our lives, speaking to our hearts – whether we recognize His voice at the time or not. You have further opened up this poem for me and I sincerely thank you. This is one of the reasons that I love poetry. Even amateur poets like myself can stumble upon a rosebud that slowly opens its petals of meaning more and more. God is the true poet!

      Your thoughts on making outdoor decorations a family event are so spot on, I had never really thought about that. I hope that others will glean inspiration from your observation! Merry Christmas!

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