Saturday, November 5, 2011

"Christmas Eve in Rathmines" by Skadi meic Beorh

I have never known another person like him. He will see a child, a blind child, or a crippled child, and he will watch it with great love in his heart, and then he will begin to weep. And then he will begin to pray for that child, not that it gets better or becomes healthy, but that it might bring great light into the world!

I don't think it is that he doesn't wish the child to have an easier life, to be able to run and jump and play like most other children, but that his heart, tried itself in many fires of sorrow and knowing that which is most principal above all other imports, leaps past whatever outer infirmities are evident and hopes, nay, perhaps creates the path for the child presently being bathed in his supplication to... dare I breath it? Become Christ in the world!

The Scripture does teach that the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Well, you see, I have known Fergus for many years, and I have watched him struggle, and often very vainly, against his selfish desires and against his own unhappy past. I have watched him fall back and give up many a day, his resignations sometimes lasting for many months, and on one occasion well over half a year. Too, I have witnessed him come back again, and stronger, only to fall again. And I know now that in those battling days, now thankfully long over, that it was his struggle with the cosmos itself that was causing all of his pain. We all have this struggle to some degree or another, and many of us never overcome. The universe of which we are part requires nothing from us but harmony and love, and when we refuse to give these, or cannot because of some poisonous thing that we hold onto as if to an only companion (and it is almost always some dispensable little item from our pasts), we become the problem of the cosmos, the Satan, if you will; and not the solution, the Christ.       

Last year's Holiday Season, and I must say here that Fergus never displays his prize of life--his gentle heart--in public (if he can at all help it!), I, having crossed into the south side of the city to celebrate Christmas Eve with him as previously planned, came upon him so as not to disturb his artistic sensibilities, he being both a writer and painter, and extraordinary at both endeavors. As I climbed his back entryway and entered into his apartment through a small kitchen, for he always leaves his doors unlocked, I saw him in his parlor standing motionless before the large latticed window there, situated at the front of his flat. I am very glad that I slowed and spoke not, for as I did so, I noticed that his shoulders were bowed a bit and shaking. He was weeping and praying for some soul, I knew, and I, becoming flustered, wondered what to do as I stood annoyed with myself for even trying to make out his soft yet audible appeal. Should I go back and call on him later? Should I disturb him with a word of Christmas greeting? Should I wait until he turned to me of his own accord? I decided upon a fourth idea, and, as I left the way I came, I even tried to stop my breath so as not to disrupt this holy man, my close friend and the dear comrade of many... most of whom would be arriving with their holiday cheer, as I glanced at my watch, within the hour. I would go down into the street to spy, if I could without his notice, the object of his passionate entreaty. Oh! What I saw as I came to rest after my rapid scud up that narrow alley!

There, on the curb just in front of my friend's house, and holding her beribboned baby doll, stood a beautiful little girl of about seven years. She was dressed in a deep green hooded cloak which just covered a pair of shiny black boots. Twenty or so feet from this child stood a young woman of capacious build who carried that particular air of Christmas Matron so much so that I was truly astonished by her appearance, which was made complete with holly attached to her mauve coat as ribbons would be for other women. I reckoned that the child belonged in some cherished way to this comely woman, and that they together must have been out Christmas shopping, and for some reason indiscernible to me at that time, that they had stopped, perhaps to rest, and the woman had walked a little way up the street from the girl, maybe to see if she could locate a bus. No! Think not that this precious child had been abandoned, for she had not! A sturdy Seeing-Eye dog stood loyal at her side, and I marveled at his tame ferocity and sure ability, I knew, to protect the babe in any way that he might be called upon to do so.

Because of my surreptitious position, I could also but look up and plainly see my friend Fergus, and when I did so, after having taken in the enchanting familial view from my angle, I turned my head away, embarrassed at myself for such spiritual boldness. For what I observed as I peered into his window brought a great well of tears up from my own hidden depths, and before I could keep them at bay, they raced out with an awful sound positioned somewhere between the stirring wail of the Islamic muezzin and the croak of a sickly jackdaw. Notwithstanding my ridiculous self-inflicted situation, before I ran back down the alley and many yards past the rear entrance to Fergus' home, I, too, was blessed with the supernal vision which had apparently so touched his heart.      

The child, obviously noticing my feral sob, turned away from my friend and full face to me, and in the  trusting way of those blind from birth, gazed out with her large blue eyes into a distant cosmos, this innocent stare of hers accompanied by the sweetest of undying smiles and that gentle swaying of the head side to side which, undoubtedly, is in some way a quickened latent ability with those dear persons of us challenged in this specific way; an amazing aptitude to discern things of significance... for a canine, loving as it may be, can only do so much for the benighted soul.

When I had somewhat collected myself in the recesses of the alleyway, I snuck back up to the main thoroughfare with its wonderful wreathed lampposts and its decorated shop windows. There I was surprised by Ms. Ivy Caruthers and Ms. Susanna Smithwick, both hailing from Stoneybatter and both dear and ebullient friends in our rather considerable circle. In retrospect, I would have certainly been much more taken aback by the showy Christmas felinity of these delectable ladies all dressed up in their sumptuous fur-lined attire had I not been yet deeply impressed by that which had just occurred with our friend Fergus and the little girl who, and I believe most certainly shall, and for the fervent prayer of one righteous man, bring great light into the world.

Oh, would that we all might be blessed with just one such devoted spirit praying for each of us; beseeching from that swirling, dynamic depth of which no person, save One, has ever truly fathomed!  

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