Pastor’s Letter: To Dream of Sugar Plums, Again

Dec 19, 2020

‘Tis the week before Christmas, and we dare not gather,
Lest we dither about and create a health matter.
We go through the motions to try to bring cheer,
In hopes that Our Savior will lead us this year,
To Bethlehem’s stable filled with hope and no fear.
We climb in our beds, all cozy and warm,
And visions of sugar plums emerge and take form.
As mothers, as fathers, as children of God,
We gather remotely and venture a look,
At the pure light of love, shining from hillside to brook,
That brightens the paths that we follow and trod.
With a star to guide us on this journey of life,
Let us dream of new worlds, filled with no strife.

Reflecting on what to write in my Christmas message to you, I was drawn to the warmth, good cheer, and good old-fashioned sentiment evoked by Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas.  From its opening words, “’Twas the night before Christmas,” to the wonderful imagery of “eight tiny reindeer” and a belly described as “a bowl filled with jelly,” we are invited to imagine a world filled with merriment and wonder, to a place where sugar plums dance.

I believe that today more than ever we need to be transported in our imagining to a world as fanciful and beautiful as the one described by Moore, one that gives us hope for the future. I confess I am not a poet, and I may be accused of being a plagiarist in penning To Dream of Sugar Plums, Again. My purpose, like that of Clement Clarke Moore or any true poet, is to invite the reader to be washed by memories and images that gladden the soul and through them enter a world of possibilities, to dream.

It takes courage to dream during dark days such as these, with nightmare scenarios of doom confounding our senses, and yet dream we do.  We are resilient because of our faith. God with us today, God with us yesterday, and God with us in all our tomorrows! Is that not what we celebrate on Christmas Day? The realization of all our dreams and hopes in the birth of Jesus Christ. In the midst of darkness, fear, and dread, the light of hope illumined the path to a brighter future, our future. And so, we dare to dream of those things that will bring happiness and hope to ourselves, our families, and our friends – good health, a warm and safe home, a secure job, access to a good education, and so on. All worthy dreams that are good in themselves, but they are limited in scope to our own well-being.

In writing this letter I was also inspired by Pope Francis’ recently published book, Let Us Dream, The Path to a Better Future. In it, Pope Francis opens to the reader the broad vista of a world whose architects we are. It will be fashioned and designed by our dreams. It will be those dreams that will fuel our determination, fortify our will, and, with God’s grace, strengthen our resolve to find the path to a better future – for all. Pope Francis invites us to an understanding of our hearts’ desires, our dreams. They are by their very nature common to all humanity, built upon a shared hope for a better world. It is not simply our health, it the health of everyone in the world. It is not our personal security and well-being, it is the dream of prosperity for all. It is more than protecting our limited patch of turf, it is the care of our common home, Mother Earth. The blueprint for building a better future lies in the acknowledgment that each person’s dreams are essentially universal and not simply the realm of a privileged few. The darkness of these days of pandemic, social and political dissonance, and a planet under siege may dim our outlook for the future, but for those who believe in the miracle of Christmas dreams will never be extinguished.

Can you imagine a world where sugar plums dance? Let us dare to dream – to dream of a future filled with infinite possibilities and the realization of all our hearts’ desires. Let us dream again of sugar plums, whirling about and delighting the soul. For it is on Christmas Day when dreams come true. And so, I end with words of good cheer, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

– Rev. Dennis J. Yesalonia, S.J.