Although I have been writing for decades, it is only more recently that I have had the courage to share my writing. It started with a writing group my husband got me to join. It was, thankfully, a small group but still when it came to reading what I had written it was painful. My heart would thump, my mouth would dry and I struggled to concentrate listening to the work of other group members, as I swung between desperately wanting my turn to be over so I could listen and enjoy the others, and hoping we would run out of time before I had to read mine. The fact that they actually seemed to like what I wrote was unexpected, and such a relief, but I didn’t quite believe it. Since the group ended, I haven’t read anything to anyone, so when I was asked if I would write and perform a poem for a Christmas concert this year I was as surprised as anyone when the “yes” came out of my mouth. I was still really nervous, but my self confidence has grown hugely and I knew that I could do this.
The first hurdle I had to overcome was actually writing the poem. It’s strange how poetry can come so naturally at times, yet now I just didn’t know where to start. I had plenty of notice, but that really just meant more discarded first lines and more time spent fretting. Eventually I sat down a week before the concert and looking back at all the ideas and abandoned phrases from previous attempts to write, I realised I had essentially written a poem in pieces. All I needed to do was put them together in the right places and I had something that summed up what I wanted to say. However, it was now time to panic about actually performing it.
I love reading to my children, although now they are older it is not something I get to do so much anymore. I put on voices, and try to ‘express’ what I am reading in a way that is fun for me as well as enjoyable/informative for them. But dramatic reading to my kids is a far cry from a poetry reading in front of a group of mostly strangers. I tried many times, when alone, to recite it with the right expressive emphasis but it just sounded insincere (to me anyway).And then I made the mistake of recording myself on my phone, my voice sounds so strange outside of my head that it really dented my confidence.
I did it though.
I stood up with a microphone in my unsteady hand and looked around at the faces looking at me while I said the words I had written. I didn’t rush, I didn’t stumble over my words, and when I finished I heard applause! I walked off stage elated.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not about to rush off into the world of performance poetry, but I achieved something that Saturday evening. I did something that a previous me could never have done, and at the same time proved to myself that I am not a small insignificant voice that no-one wants to hear.
A night like any other
A night like none before, like none ever again
The night came like each before;
The sun descended at the end of the day
Making room for the moon and the stars
Little did the sun know it would rise to shine on a world forever changed
A star unlike any other
A star like none before, like none ever again
The star appeared so brightly shining
It traversed the sky, piercing the night,
A herald of hope that surely proclaims
Love has come, the Divine love has been born for all
Born in humility
Born in a place obscure and un-renowned
His a birth like many others, a mothers labouring
Long and painful, but oh so worthwhile when a tiny cry is heard.
Yet here was straw and dirt and animals in a borrowed room
Little did the cattle know, that the baby warmed by their breath was the child Christ.
How well do we hide this story?
Deck it out in tinsel and holly
Obscure it’s truth with feasting and merriment
Smother this grace with excess and greed
We no longer see the radical love that started it all
We have turned from
the Glory of the God who reigns on high,
Yet deigns to stoop and envelop us in his unconditional love.
He is here now, waiting for each of us
To clear away the wrapping
To free ourselves from festive distractions
And once again gaze in awe
At the majestic humility of the babe in the hay.
Almighty God with us.