Alumnus Thomas Worth wrote this poem in 2012 as part of a personal Advent tradition. This time of year naturally invites us to reminisce on memories of seasons past. In his poem, Thomas recalls moments of encountering Emmanuel as a child.
by, Thomas Worth
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep,
Mom and Dad bundled us into the white 1959 Chevrolet
with those enormous fins that were like eyebrows
over ancient red Egyptian eyes.
I was in third grade.
We went to a Christmas open house
at West Keansburg Elementary the night before the holidays.
I can see all of us crowded into my third grade classroom—
parents, my classmates, our siblings.
My teacher, Mrs. Lucas, was wearing a blue knit dress.
Smiling, she invited us to sing some Christmas carols.
Our family was standing in the back, not far from one of the doors.
I remember as we sang “The First Noël,”
hearing Dad’s clear true baritone beside me.
As we neared the end of the refrain, he reached for, found and held
those high notes on the fourth Noël.
Something began to sink in about Christmas—
this was important; this was significant.
It was worth Dad going to all that trouble
to sing so that he could be heard,
among all these grown-ups with their children
in suburban middle-class America during the last few days of 1960,
singing, or half-singing the old familiar carol.
It’s funny how a held note,
and Dad glancing down at me
with a twinkle in his eye as he sang and held it,
can hang in the mind like a star—
take its rest
in the northwest,
both stop and stay,
right over the place where Jesus lay.
Thomas Worth (M.Div.’03, D.Min.’07) has served as a pastor and teacher for over three decades. He and his wife, Marsha, have been married for 42 years. They have two lovely daughters who are married and have managed to supply them with five grandchildren. Each Advent, for the past 42 years, Thomas writes a poem concerning the incarnation.