By surprise

Another treat of a poem from Jan Richardson:

For Joy

Image: For Joy © Jan L. Richardson

You can prepare
but still
it will come to you
by surprise

crossing through your doorway
calling your name in greeting
turning like a child
who quickens suddenly
within you

it will astonish you
how wide your heart
will open
in welcome

for the joy
that finds you
so ready
and still so
unprepared.

– Jan Richardson

The Advent Door

Stumbled upon this beautiful Advent poem:

Blessing the Door

First let us say

“Crossing the Threshold” Copyright Jan Richardson

“Crossing the Threshold”
Copyright Jan Richardson

a blessing
upon all who have
entered here before
us.

You can see the sign
of their passage
by the worn place
on the doorframe
as they walked through,
the smooth sill
of the threshold
where they crossed.

Press your ear
to the door
for a moment before
you enter

and you will hear
their voices murmuring
words you cannot
quite make out
but know
are full of welcome.

On the other side
these ones who wait –
for you,
if you do not
know by now –
understand what
a blessing can do

how it appears like
nothing you expected

how it arrives as
visitor,
outrageous invitation,
child;

how it takes the form
of angel
or dream;

how it comes
in words like
How can this be?
and
lifted up the lowly:

how it sounds like
in the wilderness
prepare the way.

Those who wait
for you know
how the mark of
a true blessing
is that it will take you
where you did not
think to go.

Once through this door
there will be more:
more doors
more blessings
more who watch and
wait for you

but here
at this door of
beginning
the blessings cannot
be said without you

So lay your palm
against the frame
that those before you
touched

place your feet
where others paused in this entryway.

Say the thing that
you most need
and the door will
open wide.

And by this word
the door is blessed
and by this word
the blessing is begun
from which
door by door
all the rest
will come.

– Jan Richardson, from  Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas.

Advent Song

Advent Song

Lady, what songs are bending
The tall grasses of your mind,
What secret music whispers down your veins,
What wax-leaf ponderings, O Virgin Mary,
Waken our little shouts of expectation?

Our thoughts have lumbered down a treeless highway,
Have sputtered their heavy loftiness, have wept
Their protest. Now we hear the distant birdcall
Oh, dimly! but the woods have heard it well.
The stars are singing in their stupefaction,
The giddy little hills are clapping hands.

But Lady, what songs sway
The supple grasses of your thoughts,
What secret music whispers down your veins?

Glorious things are said about this city
Where the small citizen Christ moves in the lanes
Of so-brief arteried comfort; but what songs
Drift through this templed alabaster town?

We see the windows lighted, Virgin Mary,
City of God, by every hymn we raise
With chipped and broken voices, and our feeble
Vision guesses sacred silhouettes.

But when the little Seed fell in the furrow,
The warm and spotless furrow of your heart,
Tell us what pure songs stirred your delicate wonder,
What secret music whispered down your veins.

Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C. [late Abbess of the Colettine Poor Clare monastery in Roswell, New Mexico]

A Hope Carol

A night was near, a day was near,
Between a day and night
I heard sweet voices calling clear,
Calling me:
I heard a whirr of wing on wing,
But could not see the sight;
I long to see my birds that sing,
I long to see.
Below the stars, beyond the moon,
Between the night and day
I heard a rising falling tune
Calling me:
I long to see the pipes and strings
Whereon such minstrels play;
I long to see each face that sings,
I long to see.
Today or may be not today,
Tonight or not tonight,
All voices that command or pray
Calling me,
Shall kindle in my soul such fire
And in my eyes such light
That I shall see that heart’s desire
I long to see.

Christina Georgina Rossetti

My own heart

My own heart let me more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet.
I cast for comfort I can no more get
By groping round my comfortless, than blind
Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find
Thirst’s all-in-all in all a world of wet.

Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise
You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile
Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size
At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile
‘s not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather — as skies
Betweenpie mountains — lights a lovely mile.

~Gerard Manley Hopkins

On Corpus Christi

On Corpus Christi, Before the Blessed Sacrament

You languish in the darkness like
a criminal imprisoned
a sick man quarantined
an eccentric, babbling uncle, hid away.

Are they so afraid of You?
Are we so ashamed of You?
This is Your pageant day!

Where are Your holy calvacades?
Your solemn ranks of soldiers
with their Captain at their head?
Your festal, fair procession
winding through the curious crowds
who marvel at the sacred spectacle?

In the quiet I hear echoes
from the stones of ancient streets
crying out with praise to shame us
for our silence.
In the blackness I see faces
of a multitude of children
looking down the ages, wondering
to see so plain a feast.

For the glory due Your name,
how long, O Lord,
must You wait?

 

~Paul Thigpen

Steadfast taper

A poem by Luci Shaw:

       Steadfast Taper
Job 28:3

His candle shines upon my head.
He trims the wick and guards the falme
and though darkness creeps in close
the steadfast taper shines the same.

The flower of flame sways in the air.
Wind fingers snatch and try to snuff
the stalk his careful hands protect.
The light shines through.  It is enough.

His candle shines on me in love,
(protective circle in the gloom)
and through the dreadful night I know
that he is with me in the room.

Throughout the weary waiting time
the liquid flame shines thin and pure.
When tiredness dims my faith, I look
and see his light, and I am sure.

        ~Luci Shaw (Moving into Light, p. 106)

My Jesus I love Thee

My Jesus, I Love Thee

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

William Ralph Featherston, 1864

Lead, kindly light

Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,–
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene,–one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that thou
Shouldst lead me on:
I loved to choose and see my path, but now
Lead thou me on!
I loved the garish days, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.

So long thy power hath blessed me, sure it still
Will lead me on;
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

John Henry Newman
Here is a lovely adaptation by Audrey Assad:

Thy Mercy Free

Out of the depths we cry to thee.
Lord, hear us, we implore thee.
Bend down thy gracious ear to us.
Let our prayer come before thee!
On our misdeeds in mercy look
O deign to blot them from thy book,
And let us come before thee.

Thy sov’reign grace and boundless love
Show thee, O Lord, forgiving.
Our purest thoughts and deeds but prove
Sin in our hearts is living.
None guiltless in thy sight appear.
All who approach thy throne must fear,
And humbly trust thy mercy.

Thou canst be merciful while just.
This is our hope’s foundation.
In thy redeeming grace we trust.
O grant us thy salvation.
Upheld by thee we stand secure.
Thy word is firm, thy promise sure,
And we rely upon thee.

Like those who watch for midnight’s hour
To hail the dawning morrow,
We wait for thee, we trust thy pow’r,
Unmoved by doubt or sorrow.
So let thy people hope in thee,
And they shall find thy mercy free,
And thy redemption plenteous.

Martin Luther