New York, the home of those who wander far
From home, fleeing charming ghosts, or else in
Search of something resembling a star.
But at Christmastime we find the din
Has died down, what with the closed offices
And country houses, you soon discover
The season collapses some distances
But reveals the enormity of others,
E.g., with ease you fly back to your youth choir,
The cardboard wings the first of endless guises
You’ll don, or the night you spent your entire
Savings at the drugstore, faux leather gloves
For your dad, perfume in a heart-shaped vial
For your mom, the revelation that love
Will cost you everything, and you’ll still
Need your father to slip you a five
Because the gifts you chose for them cost more than you knew,
And that night while you slept your mom wrapped them for you.
But now let’s talk about the wide chasms
That emerge in the light of the Child’s star:
The person you wish to be, and the persons
You wish to be with, are both so far
Away—you can barely make them out in
The haze of the battlefield, the thick smoke
Of a shrapnel shell, or the fried chicken
Burning in the pan, you’re starting to choke
—And “besides all this, between us and you
A great gulf has been fixed”, Do Not Pass Go,
Do Not Collect $200, and Who
-soever shall call on the name of the
Lord will spend a lot of time staring up
Into the sky with the quiet roaring
Down like sleet. Take a number. Take this cup.
The doctor will see in you in fourteen
Thousand years, give or take a century or two,
I hope you brought something along for you to do.
But what might it mean for the Mighty God
To make his way from the eternal
Beginning to this transitory and flawed
Place? Ours is not the story of maternal
Love, the fidelity of friends in crisis,
Or even of an heroic effort
Against the odds: it’s a strip mall, it’s ISIS,
It’s new and interesting ways to hurt
Ourselves, and those we love. But He did come
Here, though you may not have heard about it,
Or you did hear but don’t really care. Some
Light can only be seen in the quiet,
And the greatest things are accomplished
In silence. But when he finally spoke
We heard him say, “I will destroy this
Temple that is made with hands, I will stoke
A fire by which you will be warmed and you may see
That the only temple worth entering was made by me.
For he came to build a temple and you
Are one of the stones he is setting in place.
He came to be a temple, the one true
Promise with hands and skin, a heart and a face.
He came to be what he was, beloved
Son running on the playground hoping to
Catch His Father’s eye with the zeal of
His joy in doing what his dad said to do.
He came to take our names so that he could
Answer for us at the feet of the Lord.
It’s true: he hung your nametag over his head
So that he was you, and now any word
Spoken against you, he will bear it. And
The word he whispers in the dark to you
Can save your life, and you will hear it. When
He speaks to you, though, don’t wait; don’t think it through.
Just go to him and know that when you finally arrive,
You’ll meet yourself finally whole and alive.
But at Christmas I can never shake this
Thought that there’s a big party happening
In some house as big as the world, the guest
List as big as the world, aspirations
Infinite met there, regrets settled there,
You never want to disappear into
The bathroom to stare at the mirror, or stare
At your phone: instead, you simply want to
Be where you are, and who you are, and with
Who you’re with, underneath and together
With God, who is not a force or a myth,
But a man who will spend his forever
Upon you, his whole, heavy love upon
You, to get you to that party. Because
Without him you’ll never find it. Open
Any door or bottle or vein, the law is
That only he knows the way, only he has the key,
Only he can afford the treasure that is free.
He became what we are so that we could become
What he has always been, the most cherished of sons.
Vito Aiuto is a pastor, writer, and musician who lives in Brooklyn, New York.