Friday, October 02, 2015

Will They Hear Angels Sing? (by Peter A. Black)

It is obvious – the people are in haste,
heading towards who-knows-where.
They trudge along a rugged road in the dark, their way illuminated only by small lights in the heavens. They – men and women from youth to old age, and yes, little children too – bear bundles on their backs as they press forward, leaning into the night. In the foreground a man, his body straining forward, toils between the shafts of a spoke-wheeled wagon bearing his family’s earthly goods.

WWII. Credit: (Not the same
as was in the book; that was a night scene.) 
This sombre black and white and grey-toned picture, so full of action and human pathos, stirred something in me when my eyes first alighted on it. I recall a sense of feeling sorry – of compassion, for “those poor people.” (Do I remember correctly that those people also strove against wind-driven snow? I think so.)
I was about five years old.
That picture was featured in a book containing simple piano arrangements of Christmas carols. The book was a gift to my older sister, Chris. The publishers chose that illustration to accompany the carol, “It Came upon the Midnight Clear.”*

(Not the picture in the book)
 But why this dark, sombre and sad picture?

The book was published shortly after WWII had ended. But it would be a year or so before I knew about refugees who, in the millions, fled their homes in numerous countries across Europe and beyond, to escape the ravages of the war. I then readily made the connection in my young mind between the people in the picture and what I now knew.
Currently we’re again seeing people fleeing by night and by day, heading towards who-knows-where, propelled by danger, drawn by the light of hope amidst the darkness of their plight. Now, through pictures and movie news-clips, young minds and hearts are again getting sensitized by pictures to the plight of children like them, half a world away – kids who want to laugh and love and play with chums at school and in their neighbourhoods and enjoy life with their families.

Here’s the verse of the carol that I associated most with the picture at that early age:

2015 Syrian Refugees. Source:
And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing:
O rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.


Summer yields to the cool currents of fall and night pushes day into an ever decreasing space, while merciful nature yields her autumn fruits.

Bronze basted turkeys and hams, savoury cabbage rolls and an enormous array of delightful delicacies of a North American Thanksgiving will be upon us in no time at all. But what of the souls, whose bodies bend low as they lean, toiling in the dark night of humanity’s inability to live at peace with one another – often in the name of God or of a faulted concept of a god?

And then, Hanukkah and Christmas come around with their association of miracles, of angels and light. May the angels of heaven guide and guard those weary souls, and may flesh-clad human angels of divine mercy meet those suffering travellers at points along the way; people through whose kind words, generous deeds and warm hearts, the weary ones may hear, for the first time, the angels sing.

* Author: Edmund H. Sears
The above is a modified edition of a P-Pep! article published in Black's column, P-Pep! in The Standard Guide Advocate, September 24, 2015.

Peter's second book is a compilation of inspirational articles on a variety of themes from his weekly column. These are interspersed with brief expressions intended to encourage. Ebook edition is available through Amazon.
ISBN: 978-0-9920074-2-3 (Angel Hope Publishing)
Peter's first book: “Parables from the Pond” – a children's / family book (mildly educational, inspirational in orientation, character reinforcing). Finalist – Word Alive Press. ISBN: 1897373-21-X. The book has found a place in various settings with a readership ranging from kids to senior adults.Black's inspirational column, P-Pep! appears weekly in The Standard Guide-Advocate (of Southwestern Ontario). His articles have appeared in 50 Plus Contact and testimony, and several newspapers in Ontario.




David Kitz said...

Peter, a very timely post in a troubled world. Thank you.

Rose McCormick Brandon said...

Thanks for this, Peter. It seems that every wave of immigrants meets a wave of disapproval. The British Home Children, which I've written and taught about, also experienced this, even though they came from the U.K. I realize we can only support a certain number but I hope they'll be warmly welcomed.

Eleanor Shepherd said...

Peter, this is beautiful. Thank you for your reflections on such a timely topic and for putting it in context. It is neither the first or the last time we will witness this kind of social upheavel in the lives of ordinary people.

Peter Black said...

Thank you, dear friends. Our national security is important to us, and yet may Canada be worthy to qualify (or perhaps, continue to qualify) among the "sheep nations" in the great assize of nations, when The King comes in His glory (Matt. 25).

(We weren't refugees, but my wife and I are grateful that Canada welcomed us and our family, a little more than four decades ago.)~+~~

Glynis said...

Oh we are swift to judge sometimes but perhaps we should remember that we are all wanderers really in this world, and how blessed we would feel but to give a glass of cold water and a measure of compassion. A good, timely post that makes a person pause and reflect. Thankful most for assured citizenship in eternity.

Earl Silver said...

Peter, humbling and thought provoking. Our turkey may not taste quite so good now.

Belinda Burston said...

I loved the application of the carol verse as well as the beautifully written picture of fall and Thanksgiving.

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Peter, I read your post when it came out but am only now responding to it, but I agree with all that this is not the only time refugees will knock on the doors of our hearts asking for a welcome. Well written.

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