Chris McDonnell – ‘It’s time we were gone…’



Chris Mc Donnell CT December 18 2020

In these days before Christmas, share these few words with your children and grandchildren, the story of the Jesus Child. Listen, how quiet it is, it is December again the dark time of the year. It’s journey time once more. From endless ages the wind of the spirit has been the life of each person here on planet earth.

From the earliest days, from the start of time, there has been a longing in our hearts, a longing for a new start. A re-creation, a new beginning. Let’s listen again to tell the story of Christmas, the story of a Mother and her child. The story of birth.

“It’s time we were gone. There’s a journey to be made, a place to reach. It’s time we were gone. I tell you, it’s time we were gone.”

Yes, I know, I heard you. Give me a minute and I’ll be ready. Just let me tidy away these few things. Everything else is done, then we can go.”

In the darkest night, a darkness of our own making, we have sought the light of God our Father. We didn’t look very hard, we failed to recognise the gift that was offered to us.

And so Mary and Joseph prepared to leave their home in Nazareth to start on the journey to Bethlehem the city of David.  Journey time.

It’s time we were gone.

For goodness sake! We have to go! There will be crowds on the road. If we don’t leave soon it won’t be worth going. Come on.”

“Patience, man. It’s nearly done. I cannot move as fast these days. The child is due any time now you know that. I’m nearly done.”

“Yes, I know, I’m sorry.  But really we must be gone.”

The promise that was made was, in good time, fulfilled. Not in great splendour and wealth but in a simple way in the silence of night.

Journey time, it’s time to be gone.

Ah, I tell you, the ways to God are indeed mysterious.

Each of us has to find our own way, learning from experience. Each of us has to listen to the wisdom of past years. That is the way it is, we listen to others and then we have to find our own way.

That’s just it, isn’t it? Time slips through our fingers and our days are gone. Taken from the eternity that is God will come the Son, born for us.

I wonder what he will be like, will we recognise him? Come on my friend, there’s a journey to be made, a task to be done. It’s time you and I were gone.

To a people prepared will come the unrecognised child. In his time, he will come into our time and there disturb the peace, our peace.

For each of us, half people wandering in a lost world peace will come. When we understand how broken we are, how much more we could be, then we will seek completion.

It’s time I went with my friends, it’s time I was gone too.

“We seem to have been on the road for ages yet it was only the day before yesterday that we left.

How far must we go? I am very tired now. We must be nearly there. Maybe by evening time.”

“Those people I was talking to a while back, they said we were getting near, just beyond the hills they told me.

Would you like to rest here, by those rocks? Or shall we keep going?”

“No.  We’ll keep going. It will be alright, especially if you think we can make the town by sundown.

It is already late afternoon, the sun is low, the day is nearly gone.”

From the East a story has come to us. It is the story of a wandering people, a people waiting for the Lord. It is the story of a people who were always in some trouble or other. They moved with a purpose, yet they were often confused, often upset, and sometimes lonely to the point of pain.

But still we go on. We are always drawn closer to that moment of birth.

Each of us, a pilgrim people, the sparks that the Spirit wind blew to life. Each of us, warming to a greater fire.

We move on this lonely road, seeking the Child, the one we are looking for, the one who has come to us from God our Father.

Ah yes, I know.

In the stillness that is night, in the darkness when the sun is lost, huddled together for warmth in the cold night air, we wait for the Lord.

“Look, I told you! There! There it is!

Can you see what I mean? Lights!

That must be the city.

Now that the sun has gone, the chill of early evening is here. And there within sight, is the city. At last we’ve made it. We will sleep here tonight.”

“It’s all very well you saying that we’ll sleep here tonight, but where? There are many ahead of us on this road the place will be full. Just where will we sleep tonight, just where?”

Yes, it was there, in the poverty of a stable yard that they finally found rest for the night. It was there that the richness of God was offered. A child was born, and a new way found.

Pass on, pass on the fire that has been given to you. Pass on the fire that is within you until burnt to ash you are there in the stable before the Child of Mary, the promise of God our Father, the gift of the Spirit.

Pass on, and listen. Listen to the small voice of the child in the stable yard. There in the hills above the city, the silence was broken. And the blackness of night dissolved in the light of a great star.

Shepherds listened amazed and not a little frightened.

“Child, Where have you come from?”

Men from fields stood in silence. Strangers.

“Child, Where have you come from?”

after journey time, a shared space. Homeless.

Child, Where have you come from?”

promised from eternity. Arriving unnoticed in a stable

Child, Where have you come from?

Where have you come from?

Where have you come from?

Here by this child, my place, space by his crib here this dark night with light of the world.

Pass on and stand before the telling of the story of the Jesus Child. As this child disturbs your peace accept the peace he brings from the eternity of God.

Well, that was the best we could do. It’s better than the hillside for the night is cold. Here at least we are out of the chill wind that sweeps down from those hills.

Yes, a place to lay our heads, that’s what we need. This will do, a stable floor. You are that unknown child of the stable, you are the very God that is with us.

This is indeed a strange and wonderful night and sleep will not come easily again. Stand before the telling of this story this story of the Jesus Child. Stand before the telling of this story, Stand before the telling. Stand before the Jesus Child.



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One Comment

  1. Kevin Walters says:

    A very enjoyable read with poetic expression as we “listen again to tell the story of Christmas, the story of a Mother and her child. The story of birth.” Thank you Christopher.

    This heightened emotional true story/encounter relates to an ongoing commitment to love and friendship, that invited me the writer, unknowingly at the time to partake in that love. In that it facilitated a dying mother of an adopted special needs child, the means to convey to him, her ongoing love for him, and that of his deceased natural mother. In knowing that he would be bereft of any outside help, she gave him the means to continue alone.

    I saw ‘Grace’

    It was close to Christmas time in the mid-sixties, that while working as a window cleaner on a poor housing estate, on the outskirts of Leeds, England. When I encountered a mother with her child.

    We heard the clatter of your ladder amongst our chatter
    Ma said you must be fed, such ice and snow, come warm your hand and toe
    Two years never in arrears, open back door, kitchen never shown before
    Odd snow flake, yes I will take a break
    Kitchen door cold concrete floor
    Now lounge, burst of warmth, rocking chair, a flame sat there
    All was bright but she possessed no sight
    A place was set treated as a special guest
    Best of fare before my chair
    Eighty four probably was her score
    Sunken eye but never dry
    Closed lid a tear did skid
    Quite repose handkerchief to eye and nose
    Silver groomed hair, full chair
    Paleface, blouse of taste, cameo in place
    Cardigan pale blue botany too
    Apron, tweed skirt wide of girth
    Manicured hand wedding band, hardly shown puffed bone
    Heavy leg inactivity it said, bursting shoe
    Water retention I am sure she knew
    Albert here is my joy ‘I was given a baby boy’
    I have been repaid in full, such a loving son
    Eleven pence to the shilling but he is always willing
    A heart of gold is set in that abode
    Singe of tinge set in time her heart was mine
    It was true he reflects you
    Movement of chair, Albert was there
    Cup of tea helping her see secured to knee
    No need for grace all here is in its place
    I have a tale to tell, it’s for Albert as well
    The Queen’s Hotel ? ‘Yes I know it well’
    Albert’s mother worked there as well
    My best friend right to the end
    As chambermaids we were paid
    Both from school, we did not want to work the loom
    Lots of fun, more like home if the truth be known
    Grace met Albert’s dad when she helped him unpack his bag
    Manchester way he would stay more than a day
    Real good looking she would wait for him coming
    Black curly hair blue eyed stare
    Good looker front page cover
    Cuff links, spats, moustache, but not brash
    Pigeon chest Albert did attest
    When Albert was on the way, he never came to stay
    Bill was my man, he knew that Grace was in a jam
    He did not want to know, Grace to a boarding house had to go
    Matted hair in despair, no doctor or nurse, but Grace never did curse
    She will not survive the day an old midwife did say
    She called me to her side and begged that with me her baby would reside
    She was my best friend, I promised that her baby I would defend
    She passed away on Albert’s birthday
    I carried Albert straight home
    Bill went mad he said he was not the dad
    I held firm, on this I would not turn
    Albert is not all he should be
    A difficult birth had caused this you see
    But for fifty years we have held true
    Grace, myself and Albert have seen it through
    My time is soon to come, I must leave my adorable son
    I have taught him all he needs to know
    For when to the church yard I must surely go
    Albert tried to top my tea, but back to work I had to be
    One two or three the years I cannot see
    Christmas time one more time
    A wedding soon to be mine
    Park Square registrations are made there
    As I turn to leave, commotion, high voice of emotion

    ‘Mother said this is what I have to do I must see this through’

    Face to face I saw ‘Grace’

    As I once again reflect on this incident, I now remember that Albert some time previously had come out of the house, while I was working and asked me if I were a Catholic. And because of this I now assume that he and his mother were also hence the prepared table, which was set before me. This was his mother’s attempt to create solidarity between us. Sadly, today I now know that his mother’s attempt to create solidarity, fell upon my dead ears, as *bereft of any outside help* he had to register his mother’s death alone.

    But all is not lost if you capture the moment that I did not.

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

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