Sorrow Joyed in the Time of Coronavirus, COVID-19

And the angel of the Lord said to the shepherds,
“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings
of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
(Luke 2: 10, KJV)

Painting by Isabel Nittis, age 8

Why joy proclaimed to outcast sheepherders
watching over their flock in the Judaean Hills this night,
no more prospects than any other night?

And why joy for us, the demon COVID-19
ravaging our land, family and friends
statistics in a ledger of sorrow and longing?

Joy, not “happiness”–that ephemeral emotion
that cannot sustain the ninety-mile journey
from Nazareth to Bethlehem, ten miles a day in winter,

Painting by Sibley Fink, age 7

heavy rains, temperatures in the thirties,
freezing at night, the dangerous Jordan River Valley:
lions, bears, wild boars, pirates of the desert,

the surely-still-bewildered husband
leading the donkey, his young wife pregnant
beyond belief. And then, arriving, no room

at any relative’s, no vacancy at any inn,
only a stable offered out back,
and before Joseph can say they’ll try further down,

Mary raises her voice and says, “We’ll take it,”
arrival joy-filled, a respite between pains,
just in time. Later there will be time for Mary

Painting by Sibley Fink, age 7

to ponder the angel’s hailing her most blessed
of women, Joseph’s reaction, what the shepherds
were told–a Savior born in the city of David, sheltered

among gentle beasts, the Christ child swaddled
in a feed trough. Their prospects slim to none,
like the shepherds, like the Displaced

Painting by Julie Fink
Painting by Julie Fink

coming to City Light Community Ministries
for a meal handed out at the door: “Blessings on you.
Joy with us,” like those newlyweds,

joy sustained in the baby contented
at his mother’s breast, her husband beside her,
holding her close, their child.

Joy To The World!