It’s almost Christmas. You don’t need writing advice. What you need is a poem. Then you need to hear that poem read in an Irish accent. Andrew Roycroft is a pastor and poet in Northern Ireland. This poem of his caught my eye a couple of weeks ago:

Bethlehem, Year Zero
This year none of the pieces are in place,
no finishing touch,
just the rush,
to make the best of things –
more make-do, than make-believe,
a clambering to retrieve
family under one roof,
to pluck some safety from the dragon’s teeth,
to make a place for joy again,
long looked for after labour pains,
the grace to hold our griefs
in one hand,
and with the other, just hold on.

This year has no precedent,
just more numbers from the government,
just more bitterness of argument,
sick hearts retching on hope deferred,
reading tight between the lines
for a Word
that might flare across the firmament
and speak deliverance.

But this year, we have made the best of things,
found shelter here against the odds,
adapted what has come to hand
rested in the grander plan
that underwrites this circumstance,
sees grace instead of blinded chance,
and lays in this manger ark
the Best beside the worst,
the Light amidst the dark,
the King among the filth.
And Mary cradles at her breast
the head of one who from obscurity
will carry heaven’s destiny
through thorn to crown,
dandles with her hand the heel
that, promised from eternity,
will crush King Death into the ground.

This year, we have no normal,
new or old,
but a different day,
a dawn,
a moment long foretold,
now here,
this year.

And here’s Andrew reading “Bethlehem, Year Zero”:

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