I find it hard to believe that fifteen years have gone by since I wrote this poem, I feel so old now. Anyway, I wrote this at a time when I was struggling with a lot of things in my life; battling an addiction, waiting for my divorce to be finalized, wrestling with the realization that I would never be an ‘everyday father’ again, and so on. Those were hard days, and as I thought of my children and what a family Christmas might look like now, I found myself drawn to that very first Christmas and the birth of Christ.
I found tremendous comfort in imagining what it must have been like way back then, and it was out of my imagination that this poem was also born. Today, I would like to share it in wishing all of you; our donors, volunteers, vendors, and program participants a very Merry Christmas!
Cloth can break Iron – Joe Miller Sep 17/2000
Come! Let’s take a walk just you and I.
We have but two stops and we won’t be that long, just you and I.
There, up high on the mountain silhouetted against this nights sky.
Can you see it? It’s a palace. A fortress. It’s Herod’s high place!
It’s the might of one man and with a fist made of iron he rules this land.
Look! Can you see the shepherds by the fires down below?
The sitters of sheep, all huddled together in the stillness of this night.
See it? There’s a star in the sky. Look how it shines! I wonder why?
And what’s that place? It looks like a village. Huts, sheds and ladders.
It’s covered in light, and it’s the light from that star in the sky.
Where are we now and who are these people? Men from the East?
The King of all Kings, the baby in the cloth in the manger? That’s absurd!
That makes no sense, yet I just can’t deny, deep inside something says yes,
for like gravity I’m drawn to this child in the barn in the manger.
But wait. This can’t be!! There is the castle and this is a stable!
And you want me to believe that cloth can break iron?
Of a royal line? No that can’t be. I see no purple. I see no crown.
No courtyard. No marble. No splendour.
For he sleeps on the straw with sheep by his side,
and this, this is my saviour, and for me he will die?
Mary wept! Oh … how her tears fell, and Joseph couldn’t
take him down from the tree. His Father turned his back
and the sky went black and Jesus cried out,
“My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?”
Yes! It was for you that this baby came and the word was made flesh.
Full of mercy and truth, the child grew up and the man paid the price.
Nails through his hands, and a crown of cruel thorns.
Yes, cloth can break iron – it was for you that he gave up his life!