Today we welcome a beautiful poem from Neil Mitchell. Although written over 20 years ago, it is still as relevant today as it was back in 1999. Neil’s poetry really expresses both his own creative side and that of Revive as a community as well. When understanding a poem, context reveals a lot, here’s what Neil had to say:
“This is an old poem, but still resonates with me at this time of year, especially this year, when the Christmas feeling is very far away from me. This isn’t the first year I’ve felt like this, but it is the first when consumerism, riches, individualism, disregard for the planet and others seems to be the norm.
This was my second Christmas after moving to Leeds, building up to the Millennium. I was far from feeling the Christmas spirit, frustrated at the gaudiness of decorations, tiresome Christmas music everywhere, the continuing rampant commercialism, the hype of the Millennium. When that happens, the only way I could get through it was to go to the source, to the birth at the real heart of the festivities.
I wrote it out of frustration and a need to claw my way back to the quiet, to faith and to truth, to the child.”
We’ve built a cathedral around him
Made him hold out his arms
As we take measurements
For the richly adorned robes of piety
As they are draped with chains and brooches
Of ritual and liturgy
With a side order of laity.
We chant our so familiar words
And weave them, with meaningless songs
Into a hat that, we believe, is worthy of his bisophric.
We lay before him a fine carpet
Of his Church-accumulated wealth, and guide him
Into a coach of fine wines and aristocracy.
Then, once a year, we go looking for him
Beneath a heavy, gilded tree
And wonder why we cannot find
A trace of him, out on display.
Forgetting that we’ve buried him
In a tomb of custom and superstition
That only a child, with childlike glee
Can rip apart and say ‘I’ve found him, he’s for me!’