Glimpse the Light; Hear the Bells

There's a part of Robert Frost's poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" that gets somber when he writes, "The woods are lovely, dark and deep" on this "darkest evening of the year."


For some people, despite the holiday cheer and Christmas lights and hummable songs, this is a dark time of year. Either alone by choice or circumstance, whether lonely due to isolation or rejection or both... the mirth of this month might even seem to mock their mood.


And then there's poet and educator, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. As explained by speaker and spiritual leader, Roger Teel, Longfellow had a difficult life. His first wife, Mary, died after a miscarriage. Frances, his second wife, died from an accidental fire. Trying to save her, Longfellow was burned so badly that he couldn't attend her funeral and grew a beard to cover the scarring. Added to this suffering, his son Charles gets injured in the Civil War.


So one day Longfellow is walking in town and hears the church bells chime which inspires him to pen the words to a well known carol called "I Hear the Bells On Christmas Day." However, as with many Christmas songs, few of us are familiar with all the stanzas. Read the penultimate verse and you can perceive Longfellow's pain:

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Now look at the final verse and you can see the resolve, the firm faith, the trust he had by glimpsing what little light shone through the dark despair of those years:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!

Continued Christmas peace to all and Yes, good-will to you and those you love.