It’s Christmas, the day is here and I’m praying it finds you at HOME! In this week’s poem, G. K. Chesterton explores again, Christmas and man’s true home. I hope you enjoy journeying to the manger and unravelling the mysteries you’ll find there.

The House Of Christmas

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost - how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky's dome.
 
This world is wild as an old wives' tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

                 - Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Stanza #1a

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.

Where is that place, where she was forced to roam, homeless, and all men are at home. In Bethlehem she was homeless and all men are at home? How are all men at home in Bethlehem? Her tense is past “was homeless,” our (“all men”) tense is present “are at home.” That place was a homeless place for Mary but became, and is for us today, a home.

How did it become a home for all men?

Stanza #1b

The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

A stable is a crazy place to have a child. But this child was like no other. He and the church, the body of Christ, would grow into “a stronger thing” than all the achievements of Man (stones of Rome). This would be our home that still abides and stands, longer than the kingdoms of man. Christ and His kingdom abides and stands forever beyond the Earth.

Stanza #2a

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun, 
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land 
Whenever the day is done.

“For” – Why is that which grew out of the stable in Bethlehem, the strongest thing. Why are we so at home with Christmas (in Christ) and homeless everywhere else?

Here we start to see one of the roots of C.S. Lewis’ definition of joy as “longing.” Perhaps his “argument from desire” started here?

If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.

                                                                                                                                        – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

We are homesick, strangers in a foreign (strange) land, not because this world was created unsuitable for man, but it has become that way due to the fall. Separated from our creator by our choice to take the reins and not depend on Him, we no longer draw our life from the source of life. Now our true home is elsewhere, with Him.

Stanza #2b

Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

 

“Here” – On the fallen earth (under miraculous skies), we have epic struggles, amazing sights, random-ness, achievements, and great surprises, but we live disconnected from our creator, our source, purpose and meaning. We live under Heaven where the story of our creation, His incarnation and our redemption began.
Stanza #3a
A Child in a foul stable, 
Where the beasts feed and foam; 
Only where He was homeless 
Are you and I at home;
His humble, uncomfortable, risky birth, and life, and suffering death were filled with the things we work throughout our lives to avoid. Those things, that place, is where our way home was won. How often, from the outside, does the church look the same, not attractive, but in reality, it (He) is our true home.
Stanza #3b
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost - how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky's dome.

Back in the garden, we took our independence, to make (fashion) and to know on our own. But we lost our heart, our connection to our source of meaning and love. No earthly (under the sky’s dome) wisdom (chart) or creation (ship) of man can show or take us there.

Stanza #4a

This world is wild as an old wives’ tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;

 

The wildness, and strangeness of this world are enough for our desires for mystery and the thrill of the struggle and the fight.
Stanza #4b
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

But our rest and our peace we cannot find here. They are found where the meaning of the myths were fulfilled, they became real where the impossible star showed the way to a manger, where God became one of us to bring us home

Stanza #5a

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
God’s house is open to all, and in the evening, when all things seemed dark and Joseph could not find a suitable place for his young wife to have her child, a home to where all mankind can come was found (born). A home from before the world, a kingdom grander than the grandest of man’s had come.
Stanza #5b
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.
Like the “inn at the end of the world” in GKC’s poem, A Child of the Snows, the end of the journey of the Christmas Star, the place where the impossible things are, where God was homeless all men can find their rest and peace — our true home!
Merry Christmas!