Advent The Other Side of Silence

The other day I took an unfamiliar back route to avoid the queues of cars heading in for late night Christmas shopping in Truro. I was struck by the beautiful shapes of the trees along the fields that bordered the country lanes. their bared skeletons and black silhouettes, open templates and scaffolding on which to build the hope of  Christmas. 

Image of trees and Cornish tin mine from here

The Advent journey is supposed to inaugurate a path to a new life in Christ and has intimations of the second coming of Christ. But in this darkest season of the year it is easy to remind myself of human's second birth, the one we call death.

As I looked at the trees I was mesmerised by the fact that life and death are really no more than a transition from one state to another.
The Annunciation and Christ's Incarnation are merely instances of appreciating that the rules of one world are shifted to another world in which they do not normally apply. 

What we see is not all there is.

Jo Shapcott

Indoors for this ash
is through the bark:
notice its colour – asphalt
or slate in the rain

then go inside, tasting
weather in the tree rings,
scoffing years of drought and storm,
moving as fast as a woodworm

who finds a kick of speed
for burrowing into the core,
for mouthing pith and sap,
until the o my god at the heart. 

 From Gates of Repentance
A poem by Rabbi Alvin Fine

Birth is a beginning
And death a destination.

And life is a journey:
From childhood to maturity
And youth to age;

From innocence to awareness
And ignorance to knowing;

From foolishness to discretion
And then, perhaps, to wisdom;

From weakness to strength
Or strength to weakness –
And, often, back again;

From health to sickness
And back, we pray, to health again;

From offense to forgiveness,
From loneliness to love,

From joy to gratitude,
From pain to compassion,

And grief to understanding –

From fear to faith;
From defeat to defeat to defeat –

Until, looking backward or ahead,
We see that victory lies

Not at some high place along the way,
But in having made the journey, stage by stage,
A sacred pilgrimage.

Birth is a beginning
And death a destination.

And life is a journey,
A sacred pilgrimage –
To life everlasting.
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