A Christmas Vision of St. Joseph by TMLA Poet Laureate

Dr. Patrice Woehling, a member of TMLA English Department and TMLA’s own Poet Laureate, provides for us in this poem her vision of Joseph on the first Christmas. This poem “Joseph” was first published in FIRST THINGS.

 Dr. Woehling tells us, “Because it is the year of St. Joseph, because we miss our J Lew, and because when I wrote it the image of my father was before me, I am sending it to you … with love and prayers.”

Joseph
He scrubbed the trough and filled it with fresh hay.

The midnight sky was bright and hard and raw;
The constellations danced above cold clay.

That night the heavens put on a display
That froze wise man and shepherd mute with awe.
He scrubbed the trough and filled it with fresh hay

And wondered how long they would have to stay
In Bethlehem fulfilling Caesar’s law.
That night the heavens put on a display

While Herod hoped the Magi would betray
The child sleeping snugly in the straw.
He scrubbed the trough and filled it with fresh hay,

Too cold and busy to kneel down to pray;
His fingers, stiff and wet, would need to thaw.
That night the heavens put on a display

While Joseph worked and watched as Mary lay
And nursed the baby. Sheep and oxen saw
He scrubbed the trough and filled it with fresh hay;
The constellations danced above cold clay.   
                                               Mary-Patrice Woehling

In his apostolic letter, “Patris Corde” (“With a father’s heart”), Pope Francis marked the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph as patron of the universal church, by proclaiming a yearlong celebration dedicated to St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus. The pope remarked that Christians can discover in St. Joseph, who often goes unnoticed, “an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble.”

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