Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Pause

It’s time to pause and to celebrate.


December 23, 2011 - This will be my last blog until after Christmas.

This Christmas I will be thinking of my two sons who can’t be with us. One will be selling goods for Brooks Brothers in New York City during their peak season. The other is an Episcopal Priest in Madrid, Spain, where he serves as an assistant to the Anglican Bishop of Spain.

I asked my priest son, who is in Spain on a one year Amy Lowell Fellowship, awarded to an American poet each year, to name his favorite Christmas poem. He nominated James Merrill’s “The Christmas Tree.”

James Merrill (1926-1995) wrote this poem just before his death, with full knowledge he was dying. The poem celebrates life and Christmas.

My son tells me in Spain people dig up their Christmas trees, preserve them in pots, then replant them when the two week Christmas celebration ends on January 6. That seems fitting. It gives the Spanish nearly a year to regrow, renew faith, and spirituality. Perhaps we Americans should have an annual ritual of uprooting, repotting, and replanting.

I am grateful to you, my blog readers, as I try to explain the transformation and reformation of medicine and health care, which I pray will better our physical, spiritual, and economic health.

Christmas Tree by James Merrill

To be
Brought down at last
From the cold sighing mountain
Where I and the others
Had been fed, looked after, kept still,
Meant, I knew--of course I knew--
That it would be only a matter of weeks,
That there was nothing more to do.
Warmly they took me in, made much of me,
The point from the start was to keep my spirits up.
I could assent to that. For honestly,
It did help to be wound in jewels, to send
Their colors flashing forth from vents in the deep
Fragrant sable that cloaked me head to foot.
Over me then they wove a spell of shining--
Purple and silver chains, eavesdripping tinsel,
Amulets, milagros: software of silver,
A heart, a little girl, a Model T,
Two staring eyes. The angels, trumpets, BUD and BEA
(The children's names) in clownlike capitals,
Somewhere a music box whose tiny song
Played and replayed I ended before long
By loving. And in shadow behind me, a primitive IV
To keep the show going. Yes, yes, what lay ahead
Was clear: the stripping, the cold street, my chemicals
Plowed back into Earth for lives to come--
No doubt a blessing, a harvest, but one that doesn't bear,
Now or ever, dwelling upon. To have grown so thin.
Needles and bone. The little boy's hands meeting
About my spine. The mother's voice: Holding up wonderfully!
No dread. No bitterness. The end beginning. Today's
Dusk room aglow
For the last time
With candlelight.
Faces love lit,
Gifts underfoot.
Still to be so poised, so
Receptive. Still to recall, to praise.

Tweet: I shall pause writing this blog until after Christmas to celebrate the season and to reconsider the meaning of life and health

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