Despair and hope at Christmas

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th’unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
‘There is no peace on earth,’
I said ‘For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.’

Then peeled the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.’

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

— Henry W. Longfellow

In 1863, Longfellow’s son, a lieutenant in the Army of the Potomac (Union, American Civil War), was seriously wounded in battle. This event inspired Longfellow to write this poem.

As I had come to loathe Sundays, I had come to loathe Christmas in Chicago UBF, another insane numbers-fest. The lowest point and the highest point must have been Christmas of 2000 after it became known that Sam Lee was even more of a monster than I had come to consider him. The lowest point was realizing conclusively that I had been in a cult for most of my life. The highest point was that Christmas (and my future) became decoupled from UBF. Christmas became meaningful again.

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