Advent and seeds

Witnesses to Hope

A reflection from Caryll Houselander:

A seed contains all the life and loveliness of the flower, but it contains it in a little hard black pip of  a thing which even the glorious sun will  not enliven unless it is buried under the earth.  There must be a period of gestation before anything can flower.

If only those who suffer would be patient with their earthly humiliations and realize that Advent is not only the time of growth but also of darkness and hiding and waiting, they would trust, and trust rightly, that Christ is growing in their sorrow, and in due season all the fret and strain and tension of it will give place to a splendor of peace.   (Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God, p. 36)

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The Advent Door

Witnesses to Hope

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…

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If you see a man with one eye

Good advice.

Christians . . . should strive in all things and ought not to pass judgment of any kind on anyone, neither on the prostitute nor on sinners nor on disorderly persons.  But they should look upon all persons with a single mind and a pure eye, so that it may be for such a person almost a natural and fixed attitude never to despise or judge or abhor anyone or to divide people according to categories.  If you see a man with one eye, do not make any judgment in your heart, but regard him as though he were whole.  If someone has a maimed hand, see him not as maimed.  See the crippled as straight, the paralytic as healthy.  For this is purity of heart, that, when you see the sinners and the weak, you have compassion and show mercy toward them.  (Pseudo Macarius)

And I would add: “If you see yourself with one eye, do not make any judgment in your heart . . . and so on.”

Locked from the Inside

Barnstorming

“Jesus moves among men and women–even if it means passing through doors locked from within”
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.”
~Sr. Dorcee Clarey
“Witnesses to Hope”

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
John 20: 19-20

We’re bolted in alright, to ensure we’re safe from confronting our greatest fears and our most fervent longing.

But there is no lock or latch…

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A Bright Sadness: Leave the Light On

Barnstorming

What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross.

It is much harder to believe than not to believe. If you feel you can’t believe, you must at least do this: keep an open mind.

Keep it open toward faith, keep wanting it, keep asking for it, and leave the rest to God.
~Flannery O’Connor from The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor

It is easy to lose faith: one bad outcome, one prayer seemingly unanswered, one loss leaving a gaping hole.

It can feel like God has up and left.

Much harder to sustain is faith that keeps an open mind in the darkness of the deep pit, in the midst of interminable waiting, or while facing the disappointment of lost hopes and dreams.

When belief is elusive, the worst possible reaction is…

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