Song du Jour

Song du Jour

Benedictine Thoughts, Teachings, and Prayers


January 14, 2013

After using our five senses since the First Sunday of Advent, it’s now time to put away our Christmas decorations, balsam scented candles, Christmas CD’s of sacred and secular melodies, the rich caloric sweet treats that we have been sampling, our voices for the lovely carols, and reaching across the miles in sending and opening Christmas cards with heartfelt sentiments for another year. Our homes look so bare after the tree is removed, the mantles are cleared, and red and green everything goes back into boxes for another year.


               I have titled this week’s blog: “Fakara” which is Arabic - meaning: to think, to contemplate, to ponder, to reflect and to cogitate. What happens to us when all Christmas externals are put away for another year? Do our hearts feel any differently after being in the presence of the crèche? Can we imagine what things were like two thousand years ago when all of this took place? Can we comprehend God, the Father’s awesome plan for bringing his Son to earth so that this new born baby can teach the world how to live with each other? Do we still have remembrances of sentiments from people who we do not see? Are you still spotting Christmas tree needles on the rug after you have vacuumed? Where do we go from here for four weeks in Ordinary Time? Do we just wait for Ash Wednesday and think that the Church year gives all of us a rest? No, I don’t think so. I really believe that we have these four weeks to contemplate all that just transpired, what we have witnessed in ourselves as well as others, how we’re spiritually full, and how we can give of our fullness to others in some way. We are not here to be hermits but to abide with God, God to abide with us and we abide with others. I could have used the word: to “think” but in using the Arabic word: fakara, it now transports us to another part of the world where the Christ child was born, Bethlehem.


               Once upon a time, I gave a Christmas concert and I titled the program, “What If No Choir Sang to Change the World?” There are so many messages in songs that are meant for us to ponder; there happens to be a choral piece of music that is entitled just that: “I Ponder.” This piece is so thought provoking in its text:


The heavens were silent,

the Wise Men have gone,

the flurries of angels have finished their song;

the shepherds have long since returned to their sheep,

the stable is empty, the star fast asleep…


I ponder the wonders I carry inside;

a star bright as diamonds,

an ebony sky,

a shepherd who cradles a little white lamb,

the wise man who offers the poor in his hand…


…I pause and I ponder,

a miracle starts,

a Savior again is born in my heart…


               Just the imagery of all of the characters from the Christmas story leaving is very sad even though it’s time and we must prepare our souls for another transition.


               To connect with contemplating about what is now missing, think about T.S. Eliot’s, “Journey of the Magi.” Eliot used to visit many churches to admire their beauty, experience their peace, enter into contemplation, and replenish spiritual refreshment. According to Alice Lombardo, “Eliot was going through a transformation and on June 27, 1927, was baptized in the Anglican Catholic Church; the next day he was confirmed by the bishop. Eliot wrote a series of poems shortly after he was baptized. In his poem, The Journey of the Magi, tells one part of Eliot’s conversion story which consisted of happiness, struggles and uncertainty in his life. In Eliot’s poem, he speaks of a temperate valley: Dean points out, ‘that the early morning descent into a “temperate valley” evokes three significant Christian events: The Nativity…the dawning of a new era; the empty tomb of Easter; and the image of the Second coming and the return of Christ from the East, dispelling darkness as the Sun of Righteousness.’ The three trees in his poem symbolize the crosses of Calvary.” All evoke confrontation with Christianity…T.S. Eliot’s own struggle until he arrives in the right place with his own spirituality.


               If you have an opportunity to read T.S. Eliot’s poem: “Journey of the Magi,” see how it makes you ponder through your five senses what is left behind after all of the characters leave that humble, holy space, the stable.

When we leave our Nativity Scenes, and walk away, we are left with the radiance of the Christ Child’s light, Mary’s fiat, Joseph’s guardianship and steadfastness, the Magi’s gifts of unconditional love, the shepherd’s humility, the star’s eternal light in our hearts, and the evergreen tree giving us God’s everlasting love.



Song du jour: “I Wonder As I Wander” by John Jacob Niles


I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die
For poor on'ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky

When Mary birthed Jesus 'twas in a cow's stall
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all
But high from God's heaven, a star's light did fall
And the promise of ages it then did recall.

If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing
A star in the sky or a bird on the wing
Or all of God's Angels in heaven to sing
He surely could have it, 'cause he was the King

I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on'ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky


“That in God all things may be glorified”


Sr. Jo-El McLaughlin, OSB


Art: taken from

T.S.Eliot taken from: http:/

Choral Selection: “I Ponder,” composed by Craig Courtney/Pamela Martin

Vocal Selection: “I Wonder As I Wander,” composed by John Jacob Niles

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