The Poetry of Advent WORDS OF Wai7ng, Hope, Peace, Love, Joy, and S7llness
Before we read, some guides ~ • Symbols of Advent to look for in poetry – or to use in YOUR poetry/prose wri7ng! – Liturgical Colors • a sparkling white the Sunday prior to Advent, • then, the liturgy is purple – for penitence and prepara7on • blue may replace purple as a primary symbol of Advent – represen7ng hope • Christmas Eve, the blue and purple give way to white, a symbol of purity and joy
Greens, Wreaths, Candles, and Trees • Greens – Cedar represents royalty – Fir and Pine represent everlas7ng life – Holly oQen reﬂects the atoning death of Christ – Ivy represents His resurrec7on – Evergreens remind us of the promise of life born in Bethlehem
• Wreath, Candles, Tree
ADVENT by Stephen Leake • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Somewhere your star-‐struck choir sings As the evening unpeels our histories. The world is here again! I feel the breathing of yule7de ﬁres, The ribboned refrains of seasoned candles And bars of voices beyond St. Stephen’s Wall. The robin appears in a globe of joy His carol nego7a7ng wreaths of cloud And 7nseled cakes of snow. We wing into the holy day While the blinking eye of the giQing moon Receives you at that vanishing point On memory’s path: Outlived by love Alone.
Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow •
I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day Their old, familiar carols play, And wild and sweet The words repeat Of peace on earth, good-‐will to men! And thought how, as the day had come, The belfries of all Christendom Had rolled along The unbroken song Of peace on earth, good-‐will to men! Till ringing, singing on its way, The world revolved from night to day, A voice, a chime, A chant sublime Of peace on earth, good-‐will to men! Then from each black, accursed mouth The cannon thundered in the South, And with the sound The carols drowned Of peace on earth, good-‐will to men! It was as if an earthquake rent The hearth-‐stones of a con7nent, And made forlorn The households born Of peace on earth, good-‐will to men! And in despair I bowed my head; "There is no peace on earth," I said; "For hate is strong, And mocks the song Of peace on earth, good-‐will to men!" Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-‐will to men."
A New Year’s Poem
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky, The ﬂying cloud, the frosty light; The year is dying in the night; Ring out, wild bells, and let him die. Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow; The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true. Ring out the grief that saps the mind, For those that here we see no more; Ring out the feud of rich and poor, Ring in redress to all mankind. Ring out a slowly dying cause, And ancient forms of party strife; Ring in the nobler modes of life, With sweeter manners, purer laws. Ring out the want, the care, the sin, The faithless coldness of the Dmes; Ring out, ring out my mournful rimes But ring the fuller minstrel in. Ring out false pride in place and blood, The civic slander and the spite; Ring in the love of truth and right, Ring in the common love of good. Ring out old shapes of foul disease; Ring out the narrowing lust of gold; Ring out the thousand wars of old, Ring in the thousand years of peace. Ring in the valiant man and free, The larger heart, the kindlier hand; Ring out the darkness of the land, Ring in the Christ that is to be.
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Expectans Expectavi The candid freezing season again; Candle and cracker, needles of ﬁr and frost; Carols that through the night air pass, piercing The glassy husk of heart and heaven; Children’s faces white in the pane, bright in the tree-‐light. And the wai7ng season again, That begs a crust and suﬀers joy vicariously: In bodily starva7on now, in the spirit’s exile always. O might the hilarious reign of love begin, let in Like carols from the cold The lost who crowd the pane, numb outcasts into welcome.
by Anne Ridler
Making the House Ready for the Lord Mary Oliver Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but s7ll nothing is as shining as it should be for you. Under the sink, for example, is an uproar of mice it is the season of their many children. What shall I do? And under the eaves and through the walls the squirrels have gnawed their ragged entrances but it is the season when they need shelter, so what shall I do? And the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow; what shall I do? Beau7ful is the new snow falling in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly up the path, to the door. And s7ll I believe you will come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox, the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-‐goose, know that really I am speaking to you whenever I say, as I do all morning and aQernoon: Come in, Come in.
Advent Credo by Daniel Berrigan It is not true that creaDon and the human family are doomed to destrucDon and loss— This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begoMen Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasDng life; It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discriminaDon, hunger and poverty, death and destrucDon— This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly. It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destrucDon rule forever— This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God, the EverlasDng, the Prince of peace. It is not true that we are simply vicDms of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world— This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo I am with you, even unDl the end of the world. It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially giRed, who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers— This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all ﬂesh and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall have dreams. It is not true that our hopes for liberaDon of humankind, of jusDce, of human dignity of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history— This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that the true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and in truth. So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and jusDce. Let us aﬃrm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ—the life of the world.
From Tes$mony: The Word Made Flesh, by Daniel Berrigan, S.J. Orbis Books, 2004.
May Christmas Come by Alan Jones The rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem, s6ll waits to come to term. Christmas comes and goes as we expect. Nothing changes. This year in New York, Jerusalem and Kabul, the Innocents are slaughtered according to Herod’s schedule. His rage, unchecked, s6ll does its work. Yet this year things could be diﬀerent. September 11th adds urgency to the birth, making this the 6me of choosing. The choice is ours to miss the point or see Mary and her child in every mother and her baby, and adore, absorbing the rage and terror and with a loving heart rebuild the world, making peace our giJ. May Christmas come.
Source: hbp://www.thewitness.org/agw/jones.121901.html (11/5/07) – found on The Educa7on for Jus7ce website.
The Winter Journey of Advent In this 6me of darkness, We choose to look toward the Light. In this 6me when so many suﬀer, We choose faith, not despair: We choose the work of compassionate jus6ce. As we move through Advent together, Hungry for transforma6on, for hope, Our steps themselves Transform us, nourish us. We are on constant pilgrimage, Moving to the heart of things, Reaching beyond what any one of us Can reach alone. The brightness of the incarna6on Guides us as we con6nue, With the promise of the Prince of Peace As the bright star in these dark nights. -‐Jane Deren
Birthing by Mark Unbehagen How does one birth peace. . . in a world that seems to prefer the proﬁts of war? How can one birth hope. . . in a 7me when devasta7on is born of poverty and pandemic? How does one birth love. . . in a world whose heart is cap7ve to fear? How can one birth joy. . . How can one birth joy? The plas7c manger scene on the front lawn just doesn't do it! Birthing is so much more! It is, and requires. . . radical in7macy, prolonged pa7ence, the coming together of pain and ecstasy, the joining of our deepest hopes and fears. Face it, birthing is a messy business. And yet this process occurs every moment of our lives: as our bodies birth cell upon cell, as our minds birth ideas and dreams into the world, as our spirits birth. . . in the midst of labor and pain. . . as our spirits birth.. JOY!
A Blessing for the New Year On the day when The weight deadens On your shoulders And you stumble, May the clay dance To balance you. And when your eyes Freeze behind The grey window And the ghost of loss Gets into you, May a ﬂock of colours, Indigo, red, green And azure blue, Come to awaken in you A meadow of delight. When the canvas frays In the currach of thought And a stain of ocean Blackens beneath you, May there come across the waters A path of yellow moonlight To bring you safely home. May the nourishment of the earth be yours, May the clarity of light be yours, May the ﬂuency of the ocean be yours, May the protecDon of the ancestors be yours. And so may a slow Wind work these words Of love around you, An invisible cloak To mind your life.
As a Child Enters The World by John O’Donohue As I enter my new family, May they be delighted At how their kindness Comes into blossom. Unknown to me and them, May I be exactly the one To restore in their forlorn places New vitality and promise. May the hearts of others Hear again the music In the lost echoes Of their neglected wonder. If my desDny is sheltered, May the grace of this privilege Reach and bless the other infants Who are desDned for torn places. If my desDny is bleak, May I ﬁnd in myself A secret sDllness And tranquility Beneath the turmoil. May my eyes never lose sight Of why I have come here, That I never be claimed By the falsity of fear Or eat the bread of biMerness. In everything I do, think, Feel, and say, May I allow the light Of the world I am leaving To shine through and carry me home.
Let Evening Come by Jane Kenyon Let the light of late aQernoon shine through chinks in the barn, moving up the bales as the sun moves down. Let the cricket take up chaﬁng as a woman takes up her needles and her yarn. Let evening come. Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned in long grass. Let the stars appear and the moon disclose her silver horn. Let the fox go back to its sandy den. Let the wind die down. Let the shed go black inside. Let evening come. To the boble in the ditch, to the scoop in the oats, to air in the lung let evening come. Let it come, as it will, and don’t be afraid. God does not leave us comfortless, so let evening come.
Your TURN…. • Now it’s 7me for YOU to create a reﬂec7on on ADVENT – in whatever form your words take you -‐-‐-‐ whether in the form of a diary entry, a blog, an anecdote recalled from your life, a poem?? • These are some reﬂec7ve exercises from Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr, two spiritual writers.
A Guided Medita7on • Ques7ons for individual reﬂec7on AFTER we meditate: 1. What do you ﬁnd most diﬃcult about your winter seasons? 2. Who or what is most helpful to get you through the dark season of winter, in Advent, to the light? 3. Please write a note to that person or experience that helps you reach the LIGHT of the season!
For your soil, for your soul Great Spirit of the North, my heart is frozen, my mind barren. A glacial wilderness pervades my life yet the seeds of hope are secretly planted. They gestate and turn within me, silent messengers of transforma7on. I wait with faith-‐ﬁlled conﬁdence, hearing songs without a sound. I will stand with full courage, breathing deeply the ancestral air which strengthens me.