For Jack, a Blessing

May you increase in wisdom:
The gift of God to Solomon,
And the first gift I ask for you.

What are life and wealth,
What good fortune or fame,
If a man has not wisdom?

Seek wisdom above all these,
For a discerning heart and mind
Will be required to administer justice.

May you increase in stature:
A strong tower to those around you–
One to whom the helpless will run.

Let your physical strength be a sign
That you have the inward courage necessary
That a man must have to lead–and to be led.

For strength is truly known in weakness;
Your humility before God and the Church
Will show the world your true power.

May you increase in favor with God and man:
I pray that you will be a man among men,
That yours will be a life deserving of praise.

But let this not turn you aside from the path;
Do not create for yourself a calf of gold
Out of man’s approval or others’ desires.

Know what it is the Lord requires of you;
Act justly, my son, and love mercy;
Above all, walk humbly with our God.

May God give you all these and more,
May He make straight your life’s path,
And may you follow wherever He leads.

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52

Christmas In Japan

What am I supposed to feel this day?
We always speak of the spirit of the season,
But I find it difficult to speak it into words.
I’ve never seen a full-bodied explanation.

The symbology of body and spirit cannot be lost
On this–of all the days in the year–the day
When Spirit took on Flesh in infant form:
God, fully-fleshed in deed and word.

That day was one for joy and peace and love:
Joy for the longed-for coming of the promised king,
Peace for all mankind under His righteous rule, and
Love for one another as He showed this love for us.

But for me who struggles to combine word and feeling,
I cannot distinguish this day from another
Except by the additives of music, food, and company.
Are we not called always to joy, peace, and love?

Here, away from home, what is left to set apart?
The music is the same, but I sing the carols alone;
The food is only a best attempt at re-creation; and
The company is unfamiliar and unchosen.

Lest you think me depressed, let me assuage your fears.
As on most days, I have with me a sense of calm enjoyment.
I breathe the sea air and feel the cool wind and warm sun.
I find hidden moments for thanksgiving and praise.

On this day, I make special remembrance of the babe King
And give praise to Him Who is worthy of adoration
On this day and on every day of His eternal reign–
Who lowered Himself to be raised up for our sake.

But this day feels no different to me now.
Neither does it have to, nor–I venture–should it,
For it allows me to set apart other past and future days
Spent with family and friends at home.