Sunday, December 23, 2007

Conrad the Cobbler

Before the Cathedral in grandeur rose At Ingleburg where the Danube flows; Before the forest of silver spires Went airily up to the clouds and fires; Before the oak had ready a beam, While yet the arch was stone and dream; There, where the alter was later laid Conrad, the cobbler, plied his trade. It happened one day at the year's white end; Two neighbors called on their old time friend. And they found the shop, so meager and mean Made gay with a hundred boughs of green. Conrad was stitching with face ashine But suddenly stopped as he twitched a twine and said, "Old friends, good news at dawn today. As the cocks were scaring the night away The Lord appeared in a dream to me and said, "I am coming your guest to be!" So I have been busy with feet astir Strewing the floor with branches of fir. The wall was washed, the shelf was shined And over the rafters the holly twined. He comes today and the table is spread With milk and honey and wheaten bread." His friends went home and his face grew still As he watched for the shadow over the sill, The knock, the call, the latch pulled up. The lighted face, the offered cup. He would wash the feet where the spikes had been And kiss the hands were the nails went in. And then at last would sit with Him and break the bread as the day grew dim. As Conrad mused there passed his pane A beggar drenched by the blinding rain. He called him in from the stony street And gave him shoes for his bruised feet. The beggar went and there came a crone Her face with wrinkles of sorrow sown. A bundle of faggots bowed her back And she was spent with wrench and wrack. He gave her his loaf and steadied her load And sent her off on her weary road. Next to his door came a little child Alone and afraid in the world so wide In the big wide world. Catching it up He gave it the milk from the waiting cup And carried it home to its mother's arms Safe and secure from the world's alarms. The sun went down in the crimson West And with it the hope of the Blessed Guest. And Conrad sighed as the world turned gray, "Why is it, Lord, that your feet delay? Did you forget that this was the day?" Then, off in the silence a voice was heard. "Lift up your head for I kept my word. Three times I knocked on your lowly door. Three times my shadow was on your floor. I was the man with the bruised feet. I was the woman you gave to eat. I was the child on the homeless street."
written by Violet Cobb

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