They say that when the angel came to the field
on that cold winter night, the shepherds were afraid
of the brilliant burst of light and the thunderous roar
made by the rushing of the angel’s wings.
But the first words the angel uttered were,
“Do not be afraid.” And then they understood
it meant them no harm:  they were not doomed,
despite the sudden presence of that awesome being.

On the eve of Christmas in this dreadful year,
when so many of my fellow humans suffer
from cold, starvation, disease, and constant fear,
from all the tortures of the soul and body,
and thousands more have died in senseless wars
while others, with their terrible wounds
that will never heal, pray for an end to pain,
I lift my voice with theirs to that great silence.

O spirit of the divine, be you one or many,
guiding force or forces of the universe, I pray
that when you send the angel of death for us
its first words will be, “Do not be afraid.”

©2007 Dorothy Miller Gutenkauf