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Francis and the Crib at Greccio

Francis and the Crib at Greccio

Francis and the Crib at Greccio

One witness, among the crowd …. reported that Francis included a carved doll which …. seemed to be awakened from sleep when the blessed Father embraced him in both arms. *


He led them up the stony path

at dusk on Christmas eve.

He asked them to bring light,

so, with sticks dipped in pitch

and all manner of stubby candles

they followed him to the cave.


Gathering to a luminescence

in that rocky aperture

his Bethlehem, earthen womb,

a veiled threshold to heaven.


He had found a donkey,

cross backed and a cow,

udder full and calf needy,

and with straw he coaxed

them to settle into sleep.


And for the pallet of

golden forage, his hands,

long fingered and dexterous,

had carved a babe to incarnate,

in wood, the long awaited one.


John of Greccio,

whose cave it was,

witnessed the tears of Francis,

flowing in remembrance

of that uncertain birth

under imperial servitude.


And John was sure the

carven fingers uncurled,

chiselled eyes blinked back

the smokey lights

to see once more

wonder in the eyes of

villeins to liege lords.


Francis finally spoke of

the terrifying helplessness

that was undertaken to show

that each of us, womb born,

is a doorway to divinity.


And each saw the arc

of heaven stooping

into the ordinary and

the commonplace,

revealing each illuminated face

as god again, and again, and again

shouldering human form.


He lifted the sleeping

child who stirred miraculously,

cribbed in the tender love

of one who beheld what

thrones and dominations occlude,

what those who gaze upward never see.



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