As Bethlehem is held hostage by a human condition that Christ, for those who believe, came to redeem, there is a poem as dense as a collapsed star that cries out for our attention. Like all great poetry it has an element of prophesy to it.
The Second Coming -- W. B. Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle.
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
What is being born in Bethlehem? There are invisible bombs and actual shots – wounded and dead - a bell ringer is slain. A monk shot in the back. Earth’s geographical portal of redemption is shrinking and covered with smoke, anger – and fear.
When the need for one thing is denied, its opposite takes over. It’s an equation not an apology. When the need for tenderness is denied brutality takes over. When the need for justice is denied, what is it that takes over? “- the center cannot hold. Anarchy is loosed upon the earth.”
The lion body with the head of a man “Moving its slow thighs” – like tanks. The characters battling it out in Bethlehem are drowning “the ceremony of innocence.” They are “reel shadows” taking sanctuary and bullets. All of this is happening on what those consoled by faith and accuracy agreed to be the spot where heaven and earth wed.
“Indignant desert birds” Indignant. Everyone is right. Neither can concede. Violence delivers a pause or a stun but never a solution. One understands why Bethlehem’s son said, “Love your enemies.” It’s easy to hear that until you actually have an enemy. Then “things fall apart.”
Perhaps this second coming will be a new consciousness – perhaps we are experiencing a different kind of crucifixion, which brings the world to its senses. “The blood-dimmed tide” has to soak the landscape before the truth of another poet sinks in – “We must love one another or die.” Perhaps it needs to come to that stark choice. If there is a battleground where there’s a chance of the beast choosing life it should be in Bethlehem.
Another poet said that Christ is at the center of all romantic movements. Christ – prophet or savior – is a romantic. He spoke and behaved like a lover and revolutionary. The poetic narrative of Christ’s life has a chilling moment to it. Judas betrays him with a kiss. A gesture of love clears the way for the savagery to follow.
“The falcon cannot hear the falconer.” If Christ is the falconer who or what could the falcon – or Judas - be in our present passion play? Who claims Christ as his personal savior and hero and appears deaf to him? Who kisses him as his birthplace “drops into darkness again?” What emperor with “passionate intensity” is presiding over the destruction of Bethlehem with a “gaze as blank and pitiless as the sun?”
What is being born in Bethlehem? The light overhead is a flare not a steady
star. What course can we chart by the lights presently hitting Bethlehem? As questions
vex us to nightmare - as signals from the epi-center of the Christian epoch are
being pelted from space to the homes and hearts of earth’s present population,
the fear and consolation is that - “Surely – some revelation is at hand.”
Bill C. Davis is a playwright http://www.billcdavis.com/