Christmas: House of Bread

Christmas 2004: House of Bread Poem
Before we ran off to our blood families we shared a very special Christmas liturgy and breakfast in Greg and Elvira’s backyard with our other kin- the various odds and sods of Footscray who live close and hang together around The WOC (Western Organic Co-op), Common Life, Urban Seed, Tear Australia, etc etc. The morning was warm and still, Ewen lit the Christ candle and Jon Conford recited a poem called “House of Bread,” a beautiful ‘Aussie’ slant on the miracle of the incarnation (see below.)

House of Bread (Hebrew: Bethlehem)
By Daniel ODonovan
Me and my man had a ruby stone
We found in the creek at Biljurs Bone
Round as a pearl and pure as wine
But wondrous in the full moon shine
The old man had a dream that said
Look and you’ll find a House of Bread
He told me “Come” and rolled his swag
I put the stone in my dillybag.
(That time we starved for a bite to eat
Days since we’d caught a scrap of meat
Even the dog looked like he’d die
The bush was still and pools all dry)
Two days we walked and never spoke
The third, the old man saw some smoke
The dog sniffed and began to run
We reached there at the setting sun
A damper cooked on ashes red
Was the only sign of a house of bread
The man looked up, we saw his face
And knew for sure this was the place
We greeted him and then sat down
He broke the bread and gave it round
He passed around his can of tea
Then said to my old man and me
“Happy the dream that led you here
Where hunger is gone, and gone is fear
You see this bark and boughy shed?
It holds the God who is Living Bread”
We followed him in (the dog went first)
Through a hole in the bark the moonlight burst
There was a woman with a sleeping child
Out of the depths the ages smiled
I reached and got the ruby stone
my old man found at Biljurs Bone
and laid it on the little black chest
of Living Bread, the God of rest
It caught fire under the moons full light
Driving the shadows and the night
Driving the pain, driving the woe
And every people saw its glow.

Dan O’Donovan, a Catholic priest, lives as a hermit on the outskirts of the village of Beagle Bay, a community of around 300 Aboriginal people in the Kimberley, Western Australia.



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