Bethlehem Night

What makes this night

different from all others?

Our faces lit before the fire,

we repeat the old stories

and count the constellations.

Or we sit

in the habit of silence

like someone long married.

Until the angel appears

with its stab of glory

and we are sore afraid.

We hear his shouted greeting

at once so jocular and familiar

and yet so strange and unearthly.

We hear too

the beating of many wings

like the sound of many waters

and the bleating of the frightened sheep

who scatter in alarm.

But we cannot

comfort them

because we are struck

dumb with wonder.