TO THE THREE KINGS
me, you were late in coming.
shepherds were here long before,
even the cattle. They
had joined the chorus of angels before you
For you the primordial discipline
of the heavens had to be relaxed
and a new defiant light set to blaze amid
the disconcerted stars.
How laboriously you came, taking sights
and calculating, where the shepherds
had run barefoot. How odd you looked
on the road, attended by what outlandish
liveries, and laden with such preposterous
You came at length to the first stage
of your pilgrimage and the great star
stood still above you. What did you do?
You stopped to call on King Herod.
Deadly exchange of compliments
in which there began that un-ended war
of mobs and magistrates against the innocent.
you came, and were not turned away.
You too found room before the manger.
Your gifts were not needed, but they were
accepted and put carefully by,
for they were brought with love.
In that new order of charity
that had just come to life, there was room
for you, too. You were not lower in the
eyes of the holy family than the ox or the
are our special patrons, and patrons
of all latecomers, of all who have a tedious
journey to make to the truth,
of all who are confused with knowledge and
of all who through politeness make themselves
partners in guilt, of all who stand in danger
by reason of their talents.
May we, too, before and at the end
find kneeling-space in the straw.
For His sake Who did not reject your curious
gifts, pray always for all the learned,
the oblique, and the delicate.
Let them not be quite forgotten
at the Throne of God when the simple
come into their kingdom.
+ + + +
St. John Waugh
prayer was written by Waugh for his novel,
Helena, , based on the legend
of the Empress Helena, mother of Emperor
Constantine the Great, who reputedly searched
for and found the relics of the "true
cross" on which Christ was crucified.
The Empress makes her prayer to the Three
Wise Men before finding the Holy Cross.
Waugh also wrote Brideshead Revisited,
the bais of a notable television series.
2013 Donn B. Murphy
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