Wednesday, January 6, 2016

a camel's epiphany

Found something wonderful. Must share.  It's from a literature blog by Dr. Robin Bates. In this post, he shares a poem of his father's, written from the point of view of one of the magi's camels. He introduces it with a reflection, part of which I'm sharing here (follow the link at the bottom to read the rest).

"I like it here
I’m staying with them
As I wanted to stay
In Bethlehem"
camel from St. John's, Hingham

Regardless of where we live and what we do, we can live in love and service.  That, the camel tells us, is how Christ’s love manifests itself in the world. 

There is an implied criticism in the poem of the kings for not having stuck it out with the Christ child–that’s why the camel has to slip away–so perhaps the poem does echo Eliot’s.  We once were in touch with divinity before returning to our normal lives.   Then again, as I said, we all of us lose the vision and must rediscover it.  Again and again. You’ll probably recognize the Biblical allusion in the final stanza but, in case you don’t, it’s Jesus’ assertion (Matthew 19:24) that “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven.” “Effendi” is Arabic for “Master.”

Fable of the Third Christmas Camel
By Scott Bates
(Editor’s note: The following poetic fragment, evidently an overlooked scrap of the Dead Sea Scrolls, was recently discovered near Jerusalem, stuck to the bottom of an empty bagel can. We offer here an approximate translation into modern English of this invaluable historical document.)
I went all the way
But on the return trip
I gave the caravan
The slip
One desert night
Quit Balthazar
With all his frankincense
And myrrh
And headed out
Across the sand
It was dawn when I came
To this strange land
And found this family
Living here
Without a camel
Because they were poor
So I stayed with them
Carried their hides
Gave all the kids
Free camel rides
Sat with the baby
Worked with the man
Sang them ballads
Of Ispahan
Carried the water
Pulled the plow
Loved my neighbor
Who was a cow
I like it here
I’m staying with them
As I wanted to stay
In Bethlehem
With that other
Family I knew
Which proves Effendi
That passing through
The eye of a needle
Is an easier thing
For a camel
Than a king
Epiphany from a Camel's Point of View

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