“There, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising,
until it stopped over the place where the child was.” Matthew 2:9
Were you an effigy, a figment,
or an ember of a farther burning gas
refracted by some ghostly atmospheric glitch,
or echo of the solar wind,
a herald to the world of all who sinned?
Were you a chip of rushing ferrous rock that,
gripped and held by night’s uncluttered dark,
hung slowly, turning like a tiny moon,
arrested in your final, fatal fall to earth,
the song to which the angels hark?
Or one of the angelic host dispatched
to glitter under cloud and lead
the wonder-hungry travelers west
to Bethlehem to see the fingertip of God
reach down and touch the sin-corrupted earth
with mercy and with love,
a point of light sped downwards from above?
So lead them, splinter of unending light,
o bright, unblinking shaft of bliss,
the steady, fleet-winged messenger of God,
through dunes and deserts,
tracks and wilderness and towns,
and rest at last above
his lowly, dirty, cattle-jostled shed
where Jesus, lowly swaddled savior, made his bed.
And there your light will fade
before the blinding blaze of him
who has enfolded in his flesh
the Godhead, author of all light,
conjurer of countless huge and roaring fires
that burn forever in the blacknesses of space,
whose scandalous humility and self-effacing love
compelled him to embrace
the world of ravaged humankind
and, shrugging off his weighty weeds of glory,
dwindle to become a helpless child who,
in his goodly time would cure the blind,
the lame, the leper and the raving mad,
to welcome all the destitute and crushed
with all the peace and joy he had
and save the simple and the proud,
the faithful and the bad.
Unearthly sentinel from heaven come to earth,
who flashed and glowed, then vanished from the sky,
come light our way towards that humble shack,
where we will bow and worship at the door
and kneel in abject wonder and adore.
This poem by © Sean O’Neill is featured in his book of poetry, Wordless Witness, 2019. Available at Amazon.com.
Top image credit: The Star of Bethlehem and the Magi who seek the Newborn King and Promised Savior, from ChristianPhotoshops.com, illustration © by Kevin Carden. Used with permission.