"The Burning Babe" by Robert Southwell, a 16th century English Jesuit priest
As I in hoary winter's night stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear;
Who, scorched with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.
Alas, quoth he, but newly born in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I!
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns;
The fuel justice layeth on, and mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men's defilëd souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood.
With this he vanished out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmas day.
and another of his wonderful poems, on the Nativity of Christ:
Behold the father is his daughter's son,
The bird that built the nest is hatch'd therein,
The old of years an hour hath not outrun,
Eternal life to live doth now begin,
The word is dumb, the mirth of heaven doth weep,
Might feeble is, and force doth faintly creep.
O dying souls! behold your living spring!
O dazzled eyes! behold your sun of grace!
Dull ears attend what word this word doth bring!
Up, heavy hearts, with joy your joy embrace!
From death, from dark, from deafness, from despairs,
This life, this light, this word, this joy repairs.
Gift better than Himself God doth not know,
Gift better than his God no man can see;
This gift doth here the giver given bestow,
Gift to this gift let each receiver be:
God is my gift, Himself He freely gave me,
God's gift am I, and none but God shall have me.
Man alter'd was by sin from man to beast;
Beast's food is hay, hay is all mortal flesh;
Now God is flesh, and lies in manger press'd,
As hay the brutest sinner to refresh:
Oh happy field wherein this fodder grew,
Whose taste doth us from beasts to men renew!
Two days until Christmas. Should I admit that I just did all my Christmas shopping in the last day? I don't remember ever procrastinating this badly before! Not to worry-- all is bought. All is now being wrapped and packaged.
While sitting at the breakfast table with my mother yesterday morning, I was looking at Christmas cards we had recently received from family and friends. My mother was actively working on Christmas cards since she too has badly procrastinated in sending them out. (In her defense, she works long hours, so cards have not been top priority.) I did not recognize a couple in one picture and asked her who these people were. They were an older couple with two of their granddaughters; back in 1985, Mom took care of their eldest daughter, who had cancer. She told me that the older one passed away, the couple told Mom later that their younger daughter became an oncology nurse because of Mom, and now works at Children's Hospital.
This isn't the only story like this I've heard. While Mom and Dad lived in Connecticut right after they got married, Mom worked as a floor nurse. One of her many patients was a married lady with cancer. Her husband has sent us a Christmas card every year since 1985, and Mom sends one to him too. Another Christmas card comes every year from a couple whose little boy had leukemia, whom Mom took care of while we lived in Cleveland. The card this year said that Greg (the little boy) would have been 46 if he had survived. I think it is positively amazing that so many people still keep in touch with my mother. Even though she worked a lot more than we kids would have liked growing up, her passion for and dedication to medicine has always been really inspiring.
A final shout-out for my mother, who got an early Christmas present this past week: she received a huge external grant for a reseach program on pain management, whose pilot program she started. Normally her hospital funds research programs in-house, but this one might go up to a national conference, so it is very exciting that her application was approved and she can more move forward with this project! Hurray!
Here is my OSV article: "Most women unaware of birth control risks, poll finds"
I was asked to re-post my Monday blog entry on TIC, so I spruced it up, added a better ending and kept the name: "The Blissful Burden of Proof"
Tonight is the big family party! Ahhh! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday festivities and looking forward to Christmas.