Second Week of Advent Poustinia

John the Baptist must have spent a long time in the desert wilderness thinking about his mission and exactly how he would bring to people the message that Christ was coming ... and at the end of only the first week of Advent and at the beginning of the second week I don't feel I have come very far in really grasping what my own mission is or the best way of finding words (or anything else) to express its meaning. Perhaps I am being too earnest !
Yet Advent is our gift , our very own preparation time and I like these words by Catherine de Hueck Doherty (1977)

Poustinia is the place where we raise the arms of prayer and
penance toward God . . . the wilderness is the place where we gather
courage, where we pronounce words of truth remembering that God
is truth. 
The wilderness is the place where we purify ourselves and
prepare ourselves to act as if touched by the burning coal that was
placed by the angel on the lips of the Prophet."

For this season of Advent, I pray that you and I will make time
and discover Poustinia.

I see this poem below by Wendell Berry as a metaphor for the receptivity we need at Advent, the essential essence of waiting , giving up a sense of my own will and desires to drift in the grace of God. The paradox is that at this time of the year we are thrust headlong into a mellee of so many desires for material goods and this poem asks us to "subordinate one's intentions", to put all the mad material crassness of Christmas aside for something better, for something that "will surpass anything goods or gifts that  I can wish for....." The last verse of this poem describes superbly the kind of faith I need in waiting and hoping in this second week of Advent for what is to come.......

He wanted to drift on the river not so much to see where it went
as to be one with it, to go with it as virtually a part of it.
He wished perhaps to live out a kind of parable.
One cannot drift by intention -
or at least, in intending to drift and in drifting,
one must accept a severe limitation upon one’s intentions. 

But in giving oneself to the currents,
in thus subordinating one’s intentions,
one becomes eligible for unintended goods,
unwished - for gifts -
and often these goods and gifts surpass
those that one has intended or wished for. 

And so a drifter subscribes necessarily to a kind of faith
that is identical both to the absolute trust of migrating birds
and to the scripture that bids us to lose our lives in order to find them.

Harlan stated it in 1932 with characteristic simplicity:
“I believe that whatever we need is at hand.”

Wendell Berry from “Harlan Hubbard - Life and Work” 

When is the time for a child to be born ?
The inn is full on the planet Earth
And by greed and pride the sky is torn
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth

Madeleine L'Engle

Of all that God has shown me
I can speak just the smallest word,
Not more than a honey bee
Takes on his foot
From an overspilling jar.
          by Mechtild of Magdeburg

Gregory Alan Isakov The Stable Song

I love the words of the first verse of this song as they carry a  nostalgic wish for a return to the values of a simpler way of living and they fit the second week of Advent and my wishes for reverence and prayer to pay us all a visit..

Remember when our songs were just like prayer
Like gospel hymns that you called in the air
Come down, come down sweet reverence
Unto my simple house and ring... and ring


Remember when our songs were just like prayer
Like gospel hymns that you called in the air
Come down, come down sweet reverence
Unto my simple house and ring... and ring

Ring like silver, ring like gold
Ring out those ghosts on the Ohio
Ring like clear day wedding bells
Were we the belly of the beast, or the sword that fell?
We'll never tell

Come to me, clear and cold
On some sea
Watch the world spinning waves
Like that machine

Now I've been crazy, couldn't you tell?
I threw stones at the stars, but the whole sky fell
Now I'm covered up in straw, belly up on the table
Well I drank and sang, and I passed in the stable

That tall grass grows high and brown
Well I dragged you straight in the muddy ground
And you sent me back to where I roam
Well I cursed and I cried, but now I know
Now I know

And I ran back to that hollow again
The moon was just a sliver back then
And I ached for my heart like some tin man
When it came, oh it beat and it boiled and it rang
Oh, it's ringing

Ring like crazy, ring like hell
Turn me back into that wild haired gale
Ring like silver, ring like gold
Turn these diamonds straight back into coal
Turn these diamonds straight back into coal


1 comment:

Fran said...

Your prolific works ever inspire me, Phil!! Thank you!!