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Angel Chimes: Poems of Advent and Christmas

As It Is in Heaven


for Susan Williams Beckhorn


Going to church, my friend calls

her Sunday forest rambles.

Yet glimpsing my Nativity last Christmas,

Sue admitted craving one.

I savor such paradoxes—mysteries

like Jesus being fully God and fully man.


So when I happen on the Holy Family

and their entourage huddled between

die-cast soldiers and Kewpie dolls

at a roadside antiques mall a week

before Sue's solstice party, I don't know

what to call it—luck or grace.


Especially when I see the price

on a tag that also reads as is.

Searching for flaws, I caress

their silky porcelain contours,

discover the donkey's broken back,

inexpertly repaired, and one

Wise Man missing a thumb.


But I know she'll cherish

the sweet wonder of their faces

and forgive the imperfections

in this unlikely congregation of shepherds,

angels, kings, and barnyard beasts.


Like us around Sue's table, mostly unbelievers—

potters, bus drivers, professors, contractors,

divorced, disabled, and widowed—

finished with our turkey and watching her

unwrap each tissue-swaddled figure,

her fingers tender as when undressing

her babes before their baths deep in the past.


Oh, our murmurs and delighted sighs—

like children, starry-eyed, watching a pageant—

as she sets each one beside the others,

once again collapsing time to tell their story,

the one in which we're all as is and, in this moment

of shared awe, perfectly mended.