Advent Poems II

I give you three poems at the start of this first week of Advent:- one by Mary Oliver and two by Wendell Berry. 

There are some other Advent prayers and poems in a previous post from here

There are only a few days left in November but the title of this first poem could just as easily have been anytime between November and April and I am particularly drawn to the last stanza as it fits perfectly with the spirtual journey we undertake in Advent and where we are contrasts often with where we want to be.

The Snow
began slowly,
a soft and easy

of flakes, then clouds of flakes
in the baskets of the wind
and the branches
of the trees--

oh, so pretty.
We walked
through the growing stillness,
as the flakes

prickled the path,
then covered it,
then deepened
as in curds and drifts,

as the wind grew stronger,
shaping its work
less delicately,
talking greater steps

over the hills
and through the trees
until, finally,
we were cold,

and far from home.
We turned
and followed our long shadows back
to the house,

stamped our feet,
went inside, and shut the door.
Through the window
we could see

how far away it was to the gates of April.
Let the fire now
put on its red hat
and sing to us.

-Mary Oliver

Although the title of the second one may at first glance seem to have nothing to do with Advent, a second and more thoughtful reading of it suggests that it has a lot to do with the qualities and grace of waiting that we need to nurture and create space for during Advent.....

How to Be A Poet 

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.
Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.
This can be a particularly painful time for those who have lost loved ones.  

The interchange of death and life is always present for us; however, this time of year it comes to the surface in poignant ways.  
Somewhere in the cycle of death and new life is one ever-present reality: grace. 
God’s grace is fueled by the paschal mystery and the life that comes out of death. 

I hope this last poem can help people who are grieving.  
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.
More and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.

You have become a sort of grave
containing much that was
and is no more in time, beloved
then, now, and always.
And so you have become a sort of tree
standing over a grave.

Now more than ever you can be
generous toward each day
that comes, young, to disappear
forever, and yet remain
unageing in the mind.

Every day you have less reason
not to give yourself away.

-Wendell Berry (Collected Poems)

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