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Close against her heart

December 24

A little girl

Had wandered in the night, and now within

The shadows of a broken stall, was waiting,

While the night winds and the breath of time

Were moving over her.

The beat of pulses and the hush of heat

Had made a silence more intent within

Surrounding silence. Deepening of night.

…And then a moment’s fall,

…A sigh, unheard within the dark, and then…

She…wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid

Him in a manger.

She knelt and held Him close against her heart,

And in the midnight, adoration fused

With human love, and was not separate.

And very near, the man named Joseph came.

He was the first

To find her thus, the first of all the world.

And when her faint smile called for him to take

Him for a breathless moment, he was first

To know there is no other blessedness.

(Excerpted from A Woman Wrapped in Silence By John W. Lynch)

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Joseph knew

December 23

There was no room for them within the inn.

And Joseph turned away.

To find again,

A woman wrapped in silence. Had she heard?

No sign appeared, nor stir of tranquil veil

To tell of it.

But Joseph knew. And silence and the glance

That smiled at him could not shut out the need

   For shelter that was yet unsaid. He knew!

And suddenly it rose in him again

What it was he knew, and what was here

Beseeching in the night. An innocence

That had been burnished flawless to return

All brightness, till the Inexhaustible

Had searched for her this last and utter grace

That left no more to give.

…Like blessedness that had not been before…

And he was guardian. Guardian!

Whose task to fear not, but to throw his life

About her as a cloak. To be a strength

Between her and the world’s uncertainties.

To fend, and guard, and break the fall of harsh


He had not thought refusal was a word

Remaining in a language that had held

Her name.

(Excerpted from A Woman Wrapped in Silence By John W. Lynch)

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There was no room for them

December 22

A little while,

And then the day was slipping down behind

The dark, and clung there, like a crystal drop…

O, was there here some haste

That pushed the light more hurriedly, as if

This were an ending era, and the last

Of days? …

Then suddenly, the road

Was turning, and ahead, some clustered roofs…

He turned,

And called to her: “Mary. It is here.

This is Bethlehem.

So now he pulled the bridle on a path

Well worn, ahead of him.

…A fire and feel that there were others near.

A kind of courtyard, square, but with a roof

Around the edges, and a gate to close…

Joseph’s eyes were hopeful as he stood

To wait an answer. Then he heard them say,

There was no room for them within the inn.

(Excerpted from A Woman Wrapped in Silence By John W. Lynch)

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A Christmas Journey of Prayer

December 21

“A Christmas Journey of Prayer

Then the word came with the iron

Of empire forged in it:…

Of enrollment. Lands and provinces,

They’d said, and men and citizens and slaves.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem…to be enrolled with Mary, his espoused wife, who was with child.

And then,

A door was closed behind them, and the sound

Was loud in isolated emphasis

Against the stillness and the dawn’s cold fog…

A woolen shawl

And wrappings clutched together for the cold

Enveloped her…

A final glance had shut away this house

That had been hers, the echo of her movement

Fades to silence…

It’s true enough, that they had often stopped,

And she had gone, as one among the rest

Of women then to find relief against

The road’s fatigues, and when the fires were made,

She worked among them in the fading day.

Did they not know? Could they not feel the nearness?

…The Source? Already, some unheld reflection

Of the questing light that was to rest

Forever in His eyes, looked out from hers

As answering, she said: “To Bethlehem.”

(Excerpted from A Woman Wrapped in Silence By John W. Lynch)

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Holy is His name

December 17

He might be born, and see the stars through eyes

That were her eyes in Him! And might she trace

Her features in the molding of His brow?

Here her voice in His, and know the need

He had of her, and uttered in a cry?

And she…and…she might sing for Him at dusk!

Might sing, but no, she could not dare this dream…

But yet, it was a mother’s need to sing…

And then a song the world has never heard,

Rising in the faintest strains of distance

Loveliness had moved along the silver

Shining of her dreams, like light returned

Within a purer light, until it came

To her unfrightened. Caroling of angels’

Praise, and love that lifts to lullaby

Became as one, and blended for a fragile

Music that was hers and only hers…

My soul doth magnify the Lord:… Because he that is

mighty has done great things to me: and holy is his name.

(Excerpts from A Woman Wrapped in Silent by John W. Lynch, reprinted by permission of Paulist Press.)

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