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Archive for December, 2007

Advent 2007.

I used to really love this season – its deep meanings, its rhythms – one eye to the past and one to the future. I still really love it on days like today when I find a few moments to steal away, to be quiet and take note of where I am.

I’m actually at peace for the moment. It may be the ale I just drank. It was so good. Before that I was feeling quite anxious and restive. It’s been a full but a good day. There’s not one thing that is bugging me. It seems there is a lot converging from different angles.

Sometimes I get so tired. It isn’t hard for me to fade over into the melancholy, especially on cold, rainy days like this one. I was tending that way – feeling the futility of things – when I read this in the Ancient Christian Devotional:

Toil and Groaning
“Certainly hope is very necessary for us in our exile. It is what consoles us on the journey. When the traveler, after all, finds it wearisome walking along, he puts up with the fatigue precisely because he hopes to arrive. Rob him of any hope of arriving and immediately his strength for walking is broken. So the hope also which we have here is part and parcel of the justice of our exile.”

~ St. Augustine, Sermon 158.8

What does it mean, “the justice of our exile?” Is this hope so important that it makes the exile just? The exile is just because we are not yet home where we are supposed to be. Does Augustine mean to say that if we have no hope of return, if we have no hope for salvation, then would this be exile? Doesn’t being exiled conjure memories of better days already spent and the hope of a return to those times? I think this is what Augustine is on about here. This is what Advent is all about.

So hope is important. I get so discouraged sometimes and feel so hopeless. No wonder there have been areas in my life where I have gone astray from the ways of righteousness. It is moments like these…words like these from my ancient, wise, African brother… that remind me to hold on. Hope indeed consoles us to continue moving.

There have only been a few times I’ve ever physically thought, “I can’t go on.” However, the interior life is different. I’ve all to often come close to giving in on occasion. And certainly, the interior life factors in very highly in our relating to God along this journey.

As I look around, I see many people close to giving up hope. I look at the measure of suffering that is out there and I feel my own wounds quiver in remembrance of their birth. This world can be such a difficult place to live. I need this Advent to restore my hope in the Incarnation and the return of Jesus.

So be it, Lord. I am committed to being more attentive.

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Only Beauty….

Only Beauty
by Shawn Bailey

Yearning souls will

travel any path

run at any pace

play any part

in the drama—

searching for anything

that helps.

The whooshing winds swirls

turbulently through the

hole,

that never-filled place

of longing,

purposely vacant,

an unknown rhythm

a holy rush.

A room for a guest.

In the meantime,

barnacles of suffering

coat the inner space—

walls pulsating with groans

of darkness,

pitiful vision.

Crowds stand at the door,

happy with prospect of residence.

Relationship, Recognition, and Reputation

take turns in the waiting room,

weaving in and out of

the empty space,

offering temporary breaths of relief.

Finally, they realize that it will never

feel like home.

With no renter and no likelihood of one,

the landlord is just short of

taking down the sign—

resigned to the emptiness,

barren of purpose, cold with futility

when a current of holiness pierces

through,

crowding the chamber,

permeating with radiance–

profound with meaning.

Grown from Advent Babe

to hope

for humanities’ loss,

Beauty has come…and only

Beauty

helps.


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