A Wayside Wonder #poetry #dVerse

Christmas 1990. The year I lost my mother.
I was to spend it with my Auntie
To offer respite to my grieving father
guarding against pain, unconsciously, I threw
myself into the wonder of it
hardly being able to keep still Christmas night, so
off to Midnight Mass we went
to give poor old Saint Nick a chance
to visit.
It isn’t so much the church ceremony I remember
(though its scent of incense lingers)
it was stopping
by the wayside Nativity:
spellbound by those luminescent figures
the glow on the face on that Holiest of Mothers
lit by electric light
but still somehow
conveying wonders:
like a ruby held up to the sunrise. Is it still a stone,
or a world
made of redness?

Written for dVerse poetics: Stepping off the Sidewalk. Laura is hosting and has given us inspiration from the mystic poets. The prompt is this:

let your imagination become a springboard to the mystical/sacred

We have been given a choice of 8 fragments from the mystic poets to include within our own poem. I used the following lines as the conclusion to my poem:

‘Like a ruby held up to the sunrise. Is it still a stone, or a world made of redness?’ (Rumi)

This poem was inspired by the outdoor nativity scene outside St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Cockermouth, England, c.1990, which looked something like this:

Though it may look somewhat tacky by modern standards, to my child’s eyes it was a thing of wonder. Small wonder that I was drawn to the Holy Mother so soon after having lost my own.

By a strange coincidence, St Joseph’s Church is on the same street as the birthplace of Wordsworth, with whose poetry Laura introduces tonight’s prompt.

66 thoughts on “A Wayside Wonder #poetry #dVerse

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  1. I was so touched by your words and how you used that Rumi quote to convey the sight of the nativity scene conveying wonders just when your own family so tragically split
    “spellbound by those luminescent figures
    the glow on the face on that Holiest of Mothers
    lit by electric light”

  2. I’m not religious, but I was always drawn to nativity scenes as a child, I still am. Your anecdotal poem is very moving, Ingrid, and joyful things like brightly lit nativities take the sting out of grief for a short while.

  3. Communing with a nativity scene, a calm place in the chaos of the holiday season, especially in your circumstances, had to feel like a direct connect with the holy spirit.

  4. I never go to church, but I am always captivated by the nativity scene… close to were we live there is a nativity scene built from life-size mannequins in a real stable… it always captures me… and I can really feel the additional layer how it must have felt when you had just lost your mother.

  5. Ingrid, a lovely poem and a very interesting post. The photo of the nativity scene is indeed “Tacky,” but I like it anyway.
    I found it interesting which details you remember about that Christmas spent with your aunt. My sister and I often compare memories of shared events. It seems that we remember almost totally different details of the same events. 🙂

    Joys of the season! <3

  6. Such a lovely piece Ingrid – full of child’s hope and delight – leaving the house so ‘St Nick’ can visit – and that ‘tacky’ nativity scene – made so poignant by the loss and pain for you and your family. (I too remember feeling like an impostor at a Catholic mass – I was sure the eyes of the statues followed me)

  7. Movingly related, Ingrid, and very impressive how you worked in that ruby closing. I haven’t been inside a church for about half a century now, but when I read your lines I, too, could still smell the incense. Great stuff.

  8. We attend Christmas Eve mass too. I am sorry to read that you lost your mother during this special time.
    I love the Nativity scene:

    the glow on the face on that Holiest of Mothers
    lit by electric light
    but still somehow
    conveying wonders:

  9. Sad and beautiful Ingrid. Such a difficult time to lose a beloved parent. When I was a child, I would go to midnight mass with my father. He went aisle to aisle, reaching down the length of each with the long cane handle of the collection basket — his assigned task. I loved it. I sat in the pew, soothed by the warmth of the candle glow, mesmerized by the festive adornments of the church and the priest, stirred by the music, enchanted by the Latin — and high as a kite on the incense. Those were the last years of my catholicism. A few years later the assistant pastor molested two alter boys. I never looked back.

    1. It’s tragic and terrible the abuse of power within this and other churches. I’ve never been a member of any organised reason and partly for this reason.

  10. I think sometimes we are drawn in a mystical way to help us in our journey. I do feel sometimes the universe intervenes in our behalf. A time for healing and hope. Wishing you peace during the holiday, I am sure it it

  11. Your poem brings to mind how some memories become a part of us.
    The contrast of celebration and loss must be so much for a child to hold.
    These are the lines that caught my attention,
    “the glow on the face on that Holiest of Mothers
    lit by electric light
    but still somehow
    conveying wonders:”

  12. First, I want to send you loving kindness as you approach the thirty-year date of losing your mom. I imagine the passing of years does not lessen the pain of your loss.💗
    Your poem moved me and reminded me of scents I associate with certain memories. Also, the juxtaposition of a ruby held up to the sunrise and the image and question you create from that visual is quite stirring. 🌄

      1. I suppose so. I lost my dear Aunt, on this day, seventeen years ago. She was like a mom to me and I miss her everyday, but yes, the pain of losing her has softened. 💞

  13. A powerful image at the end, with Mary lit up, it is what we hold up to our eye, like the ruby, that can color our world. I can see how that impression of Mary would stick in your mind at that time along with the church. Memories definitely color our paths as well. Thanks for sharing!

      1. It’s ok, I’ve come to terms with it by now. I understand that you lost your father more recently? I am very sorry for your loss.

  14. I think the representations, or symbols, do become real in such circumstances. And wonder is always magic and real. (K)

  15. I could not get my first comment to go through…
    Wonder has no limits, nor magic. The vehicle through which it works can be anything. (K)

  16. Such a touching and evocative poem. This reminds me of the year we lost my grandfather just before Christmas. my grandma was so strong throughout and still had all the Christmas decorations up, still hosted the family at her house, because that’s what was planned. Any time I see the particular decorations that were up then, or a silver and white tree, it reminds me of that Christmas.

      1. Indeed. This loss was a long time ago now, and sadly joined by others. I link to think of them all keeping each other company. I’m also sorry for your loss.

  17. What a beautiful memory…..oh yes, seen from a child’s eyes things can be wondrous. I remember about ten years ago going back to the city I grew up in. We drove around to see the landmarks I remembered: my gradeschool, the two houses I grew up in (one whose front porch I played on, now with peeling paint and sagging down on one side). But the most amazing was walking into the church we always went to….and I always thought it was so large. I’d remembered the “grotto” in the side of the church….made a black jagged stones with a statue of Mary inside and all the racks of votive candles one could light. I’d always thought this a magical, heavenly, other-worldly little corner of the church. As an adult who had not seen in for probably forty years or more, I now saw the black rock was some kind of plastic set, and the votive candles were now some kind of battery run candles where you just pushed a button on them and a fake “flame” lit; and the church itself seemed so very small. Oh yes…..a child’s view is so very different….and how I wished we’d not gone into the church. I much preferred my memories.

    1. Oh that really illustrates well how the magic of childhood fades as we get older. I remember going back to my primary (elementary) school as an adult and being shocked by how small everything looked, and how vast and intimidating it had seemed at the time!

  18. to my child’s eyes it was a thing of wonder.
    Small wonder that I was drawn to the Holy Mother
    so soon after having lost my own.

    The natural innocence of childhood brought to life so beautifully in your poem, Ingrid!


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