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Read by the poet at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree, Washington, D.C., December 1, 2005


Maya Angelou

The thunder rumbles in the mountain passes

And lighting rattles the eaves of our houses.

Floodwaters await in our avenues.

Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow

to avalanche

Over unprotected villages.

The sky slips low and gray and threatening.

We question ourselves? What have we done to

so affront nature?

We interrogate and worry God.

Are you there? Are you there, really?

Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

Into this climate of fear and apprehension,

Christmas enters,

Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope

And singing carols of forgiveness high up in

the bright air.

The world is encouraged to come away from


Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.

Thunder ebbs to silence and lighting sleeps

quietly in the corner.

Floodwater recedes into memory.

Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us

As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children.

It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they

walk into their sunsets.

Hope spreads around the earth, brightening

all things,IT i

Even hate, which crouches breeding in dark


In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.

At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.

We listen carefully as it gathers strength.

We hear a sweetness.

The word is Peace.

It is loud now.

Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by

it's presence.

It is that for which we have hungered.

Not just the absence of war. But, true peace.

A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.

Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of


We beckon this good season to wait awhile

with us.

We, Baptist, and Buddhist, Methodist, and

Muslim, say come.


Come and fill us and your world with your


We, the Jew, and the Jainist, the Catholic and

the Confucian,

Implore you to stay awhile with us

So we may learn by your shimmering light

How to look beyond complexion and see


It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.

On this platform of peace, we can create a


To translate ourselves to ourselves and to

each other.

At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of

Jesus Christ.

Into the great religions of the world.

We jubilate the precious advent of trust.

We shout with glorious tongues the coming of


All the earths tribes loosen their voices

To celebrate the promise of Peace.

We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and


Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.

Peace. We look at our world and speak the

word aloud.

Peace. We look at each other, then into,


And we say without shyness or apology or


Peace, My Brother.

Peace, My Sister.

Peace, My Soul.

Spread everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor...Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.

~Mother Teresa

And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye. 

~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Watch Your Words

"On the path from pain to power," says Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. "It's important that you monitor your words, using phrases that empower rather than weaken you." Dr. Jeffers, a psychologist adn author of many books and tapes, including Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway and Dare to Connect, gives this list of examples of pain and power words.

Pain Phrases

I can't

I should 

It's a problem

Life's a struggle

I hope

If only

What will I do?

Power Phrases

I Won't

I could

It's an opportunity

Life's an adventure

I know

Next time

I know I can handle it