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Bethlehem

Bethlehem

By William Rewak, S.J.

The “Festival of Lights” in the Mission Church. Photo by Joanne Lee

For Christmas, we offer a new poem by William Rewak, S.J.—scholar and educator, and a Jesuit who served as both president and chancellor of Santa Clara University, as well as president of Spring Hill College. And, as we like to note, he also founded Santa Clara Magazine, charting the course so: “We are here for that human interchange where wisdom is born, to serve intellect and to touch the human heart.”

Fr. Rewak came to Santa Clara in 1970 to teach English. He served as president for a dozen years (1976–88) and returned to the Mission Campus as chancellor in 2011. This summer he stepped down from that post, and we’re blessed to still have him here at Santa Clara as part of our community.

His latest poetry collection, Harmony: New and Selected Poems, has just been published—and includes verse that first appeared in the collections The Right Taxi and The Orphan Bear.

BETHLEHEM

Did you know me
when you held me?

You would remember
the night blinking
the lamb that would not leave
the riotous travelers
elbowing their way
the seraphic music
of a rustling breeze
and morning larks
fluttering to see;

the joyous caress
of a new hand;

but did you know
in this dark place
when I came from you
that the straw and dust
would remain
that the bewildered
silence of strangers
would remain?

Could you read the signs
in my eyes?

Did you know
the steps I would take
away from you
but hold you all those days
all the nights I prayed?

Did you know
I would calm the seas
And give life to a friend?

Did you know
I have lived your life inside
and every leaf I touch
is a grace because of you?

Did you know
you prepared my walk
up this last hill?

Did you know me
when you held me?

December 14, 2016
 

More Christmas gifts for you: Hear Fr. Rewak read his poem “The First Day
…and read more of his story in our Fall 2011 issue.

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