I was surprised to learn when I started to look for information about Margaret Gooding, the author of this responsive reading from the Unitarian hymnal, that she had been V. S. Naipaul's long-time mistress, and that she had been kidnapped and shot in Hampton County, South Carolina. In truth, she was neither, but you wouldn't necessarily know so by searching her name on Google. Even when you search on her name and the name of this piece, an article about Naipaul's mistress is the first result, and an article about the crime victim third and fourth. The fifth link was the first one to be particularly useful. (The second was about the right Margaret Gooding, but it was just a posting of this same poem.)
Why Not a Star
They told me that when Jesus was born a star appeared in the heavens above the place where the young child lay.
When I was very young I had no trouble believing wondrous things; I believed in the star.
It was a wonderful miracle, part of a long ago story, foretelling an uncommon life.
They told me a super nova appeared in the heavens in its dying burst of fire.
When I was older and believed in science and reason I believed the story of the star explained.
But I found that I was unwilling to give up the star, fitting symbol for the birth of one whose uncommon life has been long remembered.
The star explained became the star understood, for Jesus, for Buddha, for Zarathustra.
Why not a star? Some bright star shines somewhere in the heavens each time a child is born.
Who knows what it may foretell?
Who knows what uncommon life may yet again unfold, if we but give it a chance?
Margaret K. (Peg) Gooding (1922–2003)
Previous Advent posts:
2003: Star of Wonder
2004: The Annunciation to the Shepherds
2005: Grateful Greetings
2006: The First Christmas Eve
2007: Navajo pictorial rug, Santa and Christmas tree
2008: The Christians and the Pagans