Bells Across the Snow

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Snowy park bench

Scene from our morning walk, December 2013. (Photo © 2014 by V. Nesdoly)

Bells Across the Snow

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
Is it really come again,
With its memories and greetings,
With its joy and with its pain!
There’s a minor in the carol
And a shadow in the light,
And a spray of cypress twining
With the holly wreath tonight.
And the hush is never broken
By laughter light and low,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow.”

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
‘Tis not so very long
Since other voices blended
With the carol and the song!
If we could but hear them singing,
As they are singing now,
If we could but see the radiance
Of the crown on each dear brow,
There would be no sigh to smother,
No hidden tear to flow,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow.”

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
This never more can be;
We cannot bring again the days
Of our unshadowed glee,
But Christmas, happy Christmas,
Sweet herald of good will,
With holy songs of glory.
Brings holy gladness still.
For peace and hope may brighten,
And patient love may glow,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow.”

– Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879)

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This lovely poem is part of the reading for December 24th in the classic devotional, Streams in the Desert. As I read it this morning, I thought of my friend whose husband died a week ago yesterday.

I wish her, and all who hear that “minor in the carol,” those “holy songs of glory” because of the hope that Jesus’ coming to earth brought.

Tabitha

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Dorcas (Tabitha) - Artist Unknown

Dorcas (Tabitha) – Artist Unknown

TABITHA

While others haggled over meat and fish
I caressed bolts of nubby linen
examined weave of wool
marveled at the rich lightness of silk.

When I became disciple
love of finery and fabric
was all I had to give
the Risen Wearer of the unseamed cloak.
Then I forsook my search
for that embroidered purple robe
which would proclaim “Gazelle.”
Instead stitched love for Him
into the tunics of orphaned lambs,
pieced sad raw sackcloth mantles
for widowed wives,
decorated girdles to flatteringly fit
more hopeful garments.

This day I find myself
(my needle stilled—
I couldn’t move it steady for the chills)
floating above them all
(strange how the drape of fabric
changes with perspective).

What is this place I enter
all so white (the fuller* here
must be exceptional)?
Beings of dazzle walk me arm-in-arm
to where He stands
and then I see what He is holding
in His hands
garment so gleaming white
I cannot look to tell
if it is silk, linen or purest wool.
“Gazelle!” He cries,
and I am held
by warm and welcoming eyes…

“Tabitha! Arise!”

I stare surprised
into amazed and tear-smudged faces
feel the sturdy weight of covers
hear the squeals of children
remember—it seems years ago—the tunic
I put down yesterday,
and know that I again
take up the shuttle
to weave the warp and woof of life
as ever—but not
for I have seen my robe
and looked into His eyes.

© 2007 by Violet Nesdoly

(Based on Acts 9:36-42)

*****************

This week Adele Kenny’s poetry prompt was to write about heaven. After reading it I thought of this poem I wrote some years ago. It was inspired by the story of Tabitha from Acts 9:36-42 in the Bible. Tabitha (who is also known as Dorcas and whose name means gazelle) was an early Christian woman who got sick, died, and was then raised to life by Peter.

I’ve read many accounts of near-death experiences, and I’m sure my imaginings were influenced by those stories in my flight of fancy about how Tabitha spent the time between dying and coming back to life.

(Though written years ago, this poem fits into my current project—poems about women of the Bible.)

poetry+friday+button+-+fulllThis post is part of Poetry Friday, hosted today by Julie Larios at The Drift Record / Julie Larios

“Tabitha” was previously published in my book Family Reunion – 2007, Utmost Christian Writers

* fuller:  The word “full” is from the Anglo-Saxon fullian, meaning “to whiten.” (See complete definition, bottom, under Bible Dictionary definition.)