BURNT PORRIDGE – The Shepherd’s Lament’

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Burnt porridge

You think you’d like to see an angel, do you? No. Not something to like.

The very fag end of a long, knackering day with the sheep. We were boiling up a bit of gruel on the fire. To this day when I smell gruel burning I feel … it takes me there. Burned porridge, and, — look, I’m not one of your religious types. I’m trying hard to keep this clean, not use bad words.

This thing was there, and yes, we were all s — we were all — This thing was there. Bigger than a house. Burning light. A lot of wings, claws, legs, a terrifying face. Then something like a human shape, wavering like looking at fire. That’s not why I nearly peed myself. Not the claws, not the face. It was a sense — look, I don’t do touchy-feely, woman’s stuff? OK? Don’t do it. But I just wanted to hide. Wanted the ground to swallow me. Found myself thinking of things I’d decided to forget.

And then it spoke. It told us not to be afraid. It was quite clear this was an order. You ever tried to stop being afraid because something terrifying gave you an order? I knew I couldn’t — and it made me even more afraid. And the thing spoke of the Messiah — and we all know what the day of the Messiah is like, don’t we? Fine for you holy bods, sure. People like me? Darkness, that’s what. Threat.

And then the thing told us to go to the village and find the Messiah.

Look it was like the burned porridge. It was so f, flaming ordinary. Not a Messiah like what I expected. Not darkness. A baby, wrapped up just as all little ‘uns are — and lying where busy mothers put them, in the work room, safe in the manger during the day while the beasts are out. It was so — look you don’t expect great masses of flame and when you get them, you don’t expect a message about a baby all safely wrapped up. You just don’t.

And you don’t expect one blooming great mass of fire to turn into countless masses of fire, none of them any smaller, all singing in complex harmonies. I like a song — I’m one they always call on to sing at weddings and the like — you may well think us a rough lot, but we have our songs. And I ain’t never heard the like of this. I can’t tell you what I’d give to take a part in a song like that. A good deal more than I possess — that’s what.

Then an empty hill — well, it seemed empty. Just us, the sheep and the burned out saucepan.

First published in Love Blooms Bright.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah on Saturday, 24 December 2011
I found this, tonight – on the ‘Thinking Anglicans‘ web-site –  as I was preparing to help in the Celebration of Midnight Mass, at Saint Michael and All Angels, Christchurch. Tonight, as we’ve just had another round of earthquakes in our battered city, the Bishop has declared all churches in the City – our of bounds, We will therefore have to do the best we can to welcome the coming of the Son of Man in the outdoors – just as this shepherd did on the night it all happened.
Thanks to Rosemary Hannah, who drew my attention to this ordinary story – of an extra-ordinary EVENT.
God‘s richest Blessings on all who may be looking in. Christus natus est. Alleluia!

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.