We have become used to parallel Christmases, Family Gatherings and Festive Good Cheer alongside Christmas Cribs and Nativity Plays. We’ve learned to enjoy both, though with a growing sense of unease at the widening gap opening up between them. It has become harder to ignore the poor and the homeless on our doorstep and across the world, and to hide from the painful truth that there is no room for them in our prosperous fortress any more than there was for that ‘Holy Family’ on the wrong side of the barbed wire.
The Terrible Twins of Covid and COP26 have sharpened this awareness and forced, or invited, us to look at that barbed wire and realise how futile and pathetically inept it is. Covid has penetrated it with ease, and has brought into many homes the pain and anguish that know nothing of border controls. And then there is the growing swell of men, women and children uprooted from their homes, their countries, and driven to seek refuge where they are not wanted.
The two Christmases are no longer parallel. We are no longer safe within our cosy ‘Santa Christmas’, sending gifts of charity across the wire but keeping the wire in place. Covid and COP26, in their different ways, are throwing us together and requiring us to realise that it is only together, no wire or barrier any longer between us, that we can be safe and be blessed with the peace and goodwill we wish for each other and for all, this and every Christmas.
Happy Christmas, Covid
Happy Christmas, Stranger at the Door
You’re neither of you welcome
but you’re here
And in fact, it’s we who brought you
So come in, sit down, and let us try
to make room and find a place,
a way to live together:
New Friends or still Reluctant Neighbours
willing to make a go of it;
And as for Friend Covid
We’ll find a way to keep a Respectful
Peace is what Christ’s Christmas brings
A peace that no fear or worry can take from you.
May it be yours in abundance
John McCluskey MHM