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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve on the Desert

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

Photo by ScottHeff.

Ten years ago my mission president shared this poem with all his missionaries. It has stuck with me ever since. I like to read it to myself every Christmas and contemplate my life and the Savior.

Christmas Eve on the Desert

Tonight, not one alone am I, but three —
The Lad I was, the Man I am, and he
Who looks down the coming future years
And wonders at my sloth. His hopes and fears
Should goad me to the manly game
Of adding to the honor of my name.
I'm Fate to him — that chap that's I grown old,
No matter how much stocks and land and gold
I save for him, he can't buy back a single day
On which I built a pattern for his way.

I, in turn, am product of that boy
Who rarely thought of after Selves. His joy
Was in the present. He might have saved me woe
Had he but thought. The ways that I must go
Are his. He marked them all for me
And I must follow — and so must he —
My Future Self — Unless I save him!
Save Me? - Somehow that word,
Deep down, a precious thought has stirred.
Savior? — Yes, I'm savior to that "Me."
That thoughtful After Person whom I see!
The thought is staggering! I sit and gaze
At my two Other Selves, joint keepers of my days!

Master of Christmas, You dared to bleed and die
That others might find life. How much more I
Should willingly give up my present days
To lofty deeds; seek out the ways
To build a splendid life. I should not fail
To set my feet upon the star-bound trail
For him — that After Self. You said that he
Who'd lose his life should find it, and I know
You found a larger life, still live and grow.
Your doctrine was, so I've been told, serve man.
I wonder if I'm doing all I can
To serve? Will serving help that Older Me
To be the man he'd fondly like to be?

Last night I passed a shack
Where hunger lurked. I must go back
And take a lamb, Is that the message of the Star
Whose rays, please God, can shine this far?

Tonight, not one alone am I, but three —
The Lad I was, the Man I am, and he
Who is my Future Self — nay, more:
I am His savior — that thought makes me four!

Master of Christmas, that Star of Thine shines clear —
Bless Thou the four of me —out here!

-Harrison R. Merrill

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