Catholic Group Celebrates Advent by Sharing Christmas Poems

Catholic commentator Deal Hudson, second from right, leads an annual Christmas poetry reading at Bucca di Beppo restaurant's Pope Room with Dawn Eden, left, Tim Goeglein, Mark Melcher and Gregory Kahlil, far right.
Catholic commentator Deal Hudson, second from right, leads an annual Christmas poetry reading at Bucca di Beppo restaurant's Pope Room with Dawn Eden, left, Tim Goeglein, Mark Melcher and Gregory Kahlil, far right. (Lois Raimondo - The Washington Post)

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By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 6, 2008

For two hours, the 11 people seated for lunch in the Pope Room at Buca di Beppo restaurant in Northwest silenced their cellphones and stowed their BlackBerries. They quit talking about politics, they sipped wine -- and they read Christmas poetry to each other.

A cold coming we had of it,

Just the worst time of the year

For a journey, and such a long journey:

The ways deep and the weather sharp.

From T.S. Eliot's classic "Journey of the Magi" (above) to Dylan Thomas's "A Child's Christmas in Wales" and plenty of lesser-known works in between, the group members took turns with their favorite Christmas poems as the others listened in rapt silence.

Hosted by conservative Catholic commentator Deal Hudson, Tuesday's luncheon was a celebration of Advent for the mostly Catholic gathering. Advent, which marks the beginning of the Christmas season for many Christians, is a period of waiting and preparation for the celebration of the nativity of Jesus. It began last Sunday.

For Hudson, who has hosted three of the luncheons in recent years, Advent is the perfect time for poetry.

"As we approach Christmas, I begin to let go of some of the daily grind, and I begin to find ways to celebrate the fact that I'm still here and I have friends and I have family," Hudson said. "I want to bring them together around something that lifts the burdens of life and also focuses on the birth of our Lord and savior."

From the first sip of wine, Hudson made clear to the collection of lawyers, federal workers, corporate executives, pundits, political activists and writers that this wasn't a typical Washington get-together.

"Do you have your poem?" he asked writer Dawn Eden as she entered. She patted her backpack. "It's here," she said.

"No admission without poetry," Hudson said, only half-jokingly.


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