Friends, I began writing this year’s episode in March, just one week after Putin invaded Ukraine. After composing a few stanzas, I suspended the project. Given Russia’s nostalgia for its former glories, obsession with NATO, and hatred for the independent Ukrainian spirit, I anticipated that the war would drag on. And thus it has. But I finished the episode today, Saturday, December 3rd — even though it’s impossible to predict what will happen between now and Christmas Eve.
As with all my episodes, this one has multiple references and layers of meaning. For this reason, I’ve included footnotes in the official version which are not visible here.
ps: This material is copyrighted, so please don’t copy and share it. Besides, it may need revision as events unfold. Thanks. Dean H McFalls, the author.
The Triumph of Innocence, Part 19: Hope for Ukraine
’Twas the Night before Christmas, when all through Ukraine
fresh-falling snow blessed the mud and the rain,
clothing the blood-stained terrain with white lace
and promising rebirth to New Life in Grace.
Faith in God’s Providence gave Ukraine power
to beat Satan back in the nation’s dark hour.
Demonic forces planned extermination,
but angelic spirits sowed determination.
Like the dragon of Apocalypse, chapter twelve,
the warmongering despot of Russia, himself
consumed by hatred and grasping for empire
bombarded civilians with shrapnel and fire.
He’d flooded the airwaves with lies and delusion,
then courted rogue nations with schemes of collusion.
Anxious that Russia be raised ever higher,
he laid waste her fame and became a pariah.
The whole world looked on at this mounting calamity
and fought back this demon-infested insanity,
but with World War III threatened on the West’s eastern edge,
humanity perched on a nuclear ledge.
Two years of Pandemic and social upheaval
had not braced the world for this level of evil!
Poor Gorbachev, being blamed for so long,
died telling his critic, “You’ve got this dead wrong!”
Yet even the theft of Crimea, and then
the Donbas insurgencies couldn’t portend
the degree of unbridled and mindless hostility
toward a people deserving to live in tranquility.
The U.N., impotent, could not stop the crimes
of a land-grabbing Russia, mourned our New York Times.
The USA, too, with its stern declarations
did little to stop these successive invasions.
Had Putin’s admirer won the election,
events might have taken a far worse direction,
yet the war on petroleum Biden declared
left Russia empowered, and Europe impaired.
Seizing the moment, Czar Putin proceeded,
financing his war by what the West needed.
Assuming the nations of NATO would splinter,
he launched his campaign in the deep chill of winter.
The shortage of oil fed a premium profit —
the dependent West couldn’t wean itself off it —
and should Europe boycott their neighbor’s black gold,
Putin would leave them to freeze in the cold.
How could this halfling, so calm of expression,
claim faith in God with such ruthless aggression?
How could such vile obsession erupt
like the festering boils of a mind so corrupt?
Well, God only knows. One day He’ll reveal
why evil prevails, when He opens that Seal,
but until then, this offspring of Stalin grew worse,
till Putin’s name came to be known known as a curse.
(Inside this beast hides an insecure boy;
he can’t dominate, so he tries to destroy.
Mother Russia refuses to feed his ambition,
yet his Patriarch puppet incenses the mission.
Like Soviet-era history books,
Li’l Putin sees Hitler wherever he looks.
He dreams of Napoleon as he stares in the mirror,
but he’d see the Führer if his vision was clearer.)
Yet while this insane man’s campaign ran its course,
Ukrainian spirit was gathering force.
Caught between Russia’s imploding regime
and the West’s moral decadence, stakes were extreme.
How often Ukraine was oppressed by her neighbor,
which cut off supplies and rattled the saber!
Two centuries ago, her language was banned,
and nine decades back, when draught struck the land,
Stalin conspired to starve her to death,
tightening the noose to extinguish her breath,
attacking her Catholics as enemies of the State,
and stoking hysteria with prejudice and hate.
To study this trauma, just focus your search,
on the fate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Sophia Cathedral, so radiant with mystery,
has been under siege throughout much of her history!
A century ago, the Bolsheviks planned
to tear the church down, for religion was banned.
But they – and their “Soviet Union” — are gone,
while Wisdom still stands, and the worship goes on. ⁷
The story continues, and of course we concede
that it has two versions. But when one man’s greed
for omnipotence leads him to commit genocide,
we know that there’s no way that God’s on his side.
I flew to Ukraine in the year ’84,
alone on a mission when nuclear war
was an imminent danger between East and West –
though just one stranger, I gave it my best.
I had walked with two groups for nearly three years,
to plant seeds of hope in the holes dug by fears
and distrust; but when Soviets blocked our advance,
we broke into pieces to give peace a chance.
And thus, in Odessa, I expressed my desire,
and the next year, in Kiev, with a bold, faith-based choir, ⁸
met people who longed to break chains of oppression —
their passion for freedom left a lasting impression!
The stories they shared in the more secure places
explained all the strain we could see on their faces;
the Soviet Union had crushed them before;
the last thing they needed was a meaningless war!
But that war has come, and, this Christmas Eve,
exactly ten months have passed — without reprieve —
for the more that Ukraine reclaimed land that was taken,
the more Russia’s fury became God-forsaken.
Having once taken pride in restoring the brand
of the Orthodox Church, their brazen demand
that Ukraine be subjected and split into parts
led aggressors to idolize “Rus” in their hearts.
Making things worse, when I searched for the news,
so much online seemed designed to confuse!
Instead of true heroes face-to-face with brutality,
video games took the place of reality.
Imposters were using the carnage and pain
to market their wares — and worse still, entertain.
War is Hell – this we know – though I’ve never been there,
the least we can do is to show that we care…
(to be continued…)
Dean has lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Santa Fe, and Northern Idaho, as well as in Europe and Mexico. Now married, with a son-sent-from-heaven, he works in Stockton, CA as a public school teacher, and a minister. For twenty years, he served as a Catholic seminarian, deacon, and priest. Little by little, he's writing the books that have been on his mind and heart for years -- some for decades.