"Christ Climbed Down"

Despite the maddening last-minute rush, I find myself inexorably warmed by thefolk customs and wonderful bad taste that is the American Christmas. Perhapsthis bustle is anecessary gantlet, a preparation for the wonder and stillness of tonight's Mass, and tomorrow festivities. In short, I don't want to repeat more laments about the hijacking of Christmas. But...I do like to returnto the Ferlinghetti poem, "Christ Climbed Down," written in the 1950s, and already tired of the crassness of the season. But I think the poem also speaks of the loneliness that canaccompany this season, a solitude that the timpani of even the most hallowed traditions can amplify.Here are the final lines:

Christ climbed downfrom His bare Treethis yearand ran away to whereno Bing Crosby carollersgroaned of a tight Christmasand where no Radio City angelsiceskated winglessthru a winter wonderlandinto a jinglebell heavendaily at 8:30with Midnight Mass matineesChrist climbed downfrom His bare Treethis yearand softly stole away intosome anonymous Mary's womb againwhere in the darkest nightof everybody's anonymous soulHe awaits againan unimaginableand impossiblyImmaculate Reconceptionthe very craziest ofSecond Comings

David Gibson is the director of Fordham’s Center on Religion & Culture.

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