A blessed Advent 2020 to all of you.
A Sunday-poem by Christina Rossetti:
Behold, the Bridegroom cometh: go ye out
With lighted lamps and garlands round about
To meet Him in a rapture with a shout.
It may be at the midnight, black as pitch,
Earth shall cast up her poor, cast up her rich.
It may be at the crowing of the cock
Earth shall upheave her depth, uproot her rock.
For, lo, the Bridegroom fetcheth home the Bride:
His Hands are Hands she knows, she knows His Side.
Like pure Rebekah at the appointed place,
Veiled, she unveils her face to meet His Face.
Like great Queen Esther in her triumphing,
She triumphs in the Presence of her King.
His Eyes are as a Dove’s, and she’s Dove-eyed;
He knows His lovely mirror, sister, Bride.
He speaks with Dove-voice of exceeding love,
And she with…
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I had grasped God’s garment in the void
but my hand slipped on the rich silk of it.
The ‘everlasting arms’ my sister loved to remember
must have upheld my leaden weight from falling, even so,
for though I claw at empty air and feel nothing, no embrace,
I have not plummetted.
~Denise Levertov “Suspended”
Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?
~Robert Browning from “Andrea Del Sarto”
As richly dressed as the world is this time of year,
beauty abounds everywhere I look,
it slips through my fingers when I try to capture it and hold on,
I cannot save myself by my own grasp.
Yet I’m not allowed to plummet
despite my flailing panic
as the bottom drops out beneath my feet
The air around me is not empty~
it is full of His breath
and where God breathes,
He suspends the fallen.
I always find this kind of reflection on the Easter appearances full of great hope for folks like me: “Jesus moves among men and women–even if it means passing through doors locked from within” (Jn 20.19-23). (Fr. William M. Joensen) Many of us frequently–or continually–bolt the doors of our hearts from within, yet we long for Christ to come to us. We can have great hope . . . for He is the One who can enter “through doors locked from within.”
I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know. — Psalm 139:14 (NABRE) Everyone has experienced, at one time or another, the pain that is caused by exclusion,…
Holy Saturday is a strange, still day, hanging in an unresolved poise between the darkness of the day before and the light that is not yet with us. No more so than now, in the preternatural stillness emptiness and grief of this pandemic, when life is paused, but also perhaps poised on the threshold of the new.
When I wrote the two ‘stations’ sonnets I am posting today I was conscious of how these great Christian festivals, especially Easter and Christmas, draw up and carry with them some of our deepest family memories. If we are going to remember and miss someone we have loved and lost, we will do it now. So in the second sonnet I have moved from a contemplation of the women bearing spices and wishing they could at least anoint the one they miss, to focus on the many people who will visit graves and…
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It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo.
The ones that really mattered.
Full of darkness and danger they were.
And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end…
because how could the end be happy?
How could the world go back to the way it was
when so much bad had happened?
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow.
Even darkness must pass.
A new day will come.
And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.
Those were the stories that stayed with you.
That meant something,
even if you were too small to understand why.
But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand.
I know now.
Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back,
only they didn’t.
They kept going, because they were holding on to something.
That there is some good in this world, and it’s worth…
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Sometimes it helps to look at things with a new perspective. Here is the Orthodox perspective on Lent.
“The Lenten season is meant to kindle a ‘bright sadness’ within our hearts. Its aim is precisely the remembrance of Christ, a longing for a relationship with God that has been lost. Lent offers the time and place for recovery of this relationship. The darkness of Lent allows the flame of the Holy Spirit to burn within our hearts until we are led to the brilliance of the Resurrection.” (Alexander Schmemann)
Ponder that one today and may you long for your relationship with God in any ways that it may be lost.