Can the Stable Still Astonish? And 6 Christmas Giveaways!

How many Christmases have you survived? It's a heavy weight to carry----the expectations of tiny snowy villages on mantels, wreaths on every door, anxiety that your chosen gifts will not please,   the travail of beginning a family tradition---which then must be kept, until yes, we have a special meal and activity for nearly every day .  . .  It's astonishing that we do this to ourselves every year. And every year we vow to be simpler next year, to buy one gift, to relish the presence of one another most, to attend every worship service, to create the space we need to find wonder again . . ..  and we don't. 

But I believe it's still there-----Astonishment. I send this poem out to you in hopes it will revive what may be exhausted. I wrote it many years ago, and it has turned up around the world in the most surprising places. Its words redeemed a particularly difficult Christmas, and I send it to you now hoping it will do the same for you:

Let the Stable Still Astonish

Let the stable still astonish:

Straw-dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child,
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.

Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said: "Yes,
Let the God of all the heavens and earth
be born here, in this place." ?

Who but the same God

Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms of our hearts
and says, "Yes, let the God 
of Heaven and Earth 
be born here ----

         in this place."

                              -----Leslie Leyland Fields

Little else is needed but this presence, but do forgive me for selfishly wanting to give a little more. I would like to send off a book (of your choice from any I have written) to three people who request one, and to give a subscription to the best magazine on faith and culture that I know of, Christianity Today, to 3 others. I just want to thank you for your own presence with  me this first year of Far aField Notes.

 And I join you in asking, praying, seeking, imploring, searching, watching----for All that is Astonishing in the world that is, that relentlessly breaks upon us from the world to come.