Arise, shine, for your light has come…
Then the Glory opens up, and the exposition begins…after the sheaves of night, the spirals of anxiety, here the triumph of love and the tears of joy – all the passion of our arms around the Invisible!…
Do you see a star unlike the others?
Have you watched through the ages, longing to see
this revelation, this epiphany?
To some without eyes, the night smothers;
and now, true, it lurks behind covers
of dark. But others, it beckons vividly:
those who press on through the dark, finally
to see the Morning resting yet nonethe-
less glorious, soon to shine all its Day
on mankind, those once far and those once near…
The silence is over; the patience yawns
for the fruits of dawn in sparkling array.
Be still before Him, newborn sons of dawn,
transfigured together, history made clear.
I slept, but my heart was awake. A sound! My beloved is knocking…
(Song of Solomon 5:2a)
The world sleeps, but still some wise men gaze out
unto the beckoning sky, and some
still wake to hear the door pounding, night humm-
ing in active grace of years. No doubt,
the gentleness of the stars will not shout,
yet the song of the angels ever thrums,
always beauty, until mortals must come
to the end of ourselves, our hearts, our mouths…
Lie awake, lie empty. You long because
that which you long for cannot be grasped:
not now, not while this perishable stuff
can only defer your hopes, caught in chaff.
Lie awake, lie longing. Dwell in the pause
between the now and not yet. Never lapse.
In your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness… God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.
(Psalm 45:4a, 7b)
Do not be deceived. He comes in meekness
now to expose the proud. He sleeps among
the donkeys and cattle now; soon the throng
of pilgrims will see Him ride, not in weakness,
but in true majesty. Do you seek this
or to be told that you are never wrong?
He will ride again; it will not be long,
and you will not dismiss His forgiveness.
Who you reject tonight will call to account
when He rides in all the glory of day.
His light beckons us in the eastern sky,
yet many despise its slow, meek way.
Look to the wise. Bow before the child;
there is room for your mess and your doubt.
…the music seems to come out of the silence like the colors come out of the night…
After such a climax, what reflection?
Light refracts from His glory; sun and moon
bow. Let all mortal flesh keep silent. Soon,
very soon, we shall see His intention
erupt in purposed rapture. Explosion
of brightness dancing will colour His tune:
now mauve, now gold, now rose, now violet-bloom,
more radiant than mind’s widest conception.
So stop. Silence best befits a king
when all our lips are broken, our tongues split.
Let the Word be our only word. Let Light
illuminate the dark of our speaking.
What crowns we weave for Him can never fit;
all space dances around Him, bursting, bright.
With weeping they shall come, and with consolation I will lead them back…
(Jeremiah 31:9a, NRSV)
Noise. The ages seem to verge upon chaos.
Yet crescendo is not crisis. What men
of old saw has not failed. Four hundred years
of silence did not climax now, to then
leave us empty. He always spoke gently
to the broken; to the proud, with warning.
Those with ears to hear: with kind intent, he
whispers. To the deaf, the patient dawning
will soon not be patient. There is abundant
grace for the longing wounded, or the pilgrim;
if you never sought Him, why now vent
your spleen upon the One you will pierce? Grim
the truth, endless the consolation
for the weeping on whom the new day shone.
He comes near, able to touch, to be touched,
and be wounded, to kiss and to be kissed:
the grateful kiss, the sleepy child dismiss-
ing himself to sleep; the mother’s kiss, a smudge
on freshly-bathed cheek; the plotter’s grudge
expressed in the curl of doubled lips,
the final, false farewell, the fatal tryst.
He comes to feel the touch of friend and judge.
He comes to raise His hand to touch the world,
to put together Jacob’s broken hip,
to be the salve on Adam’s missing rib,
to gather in His family, unfurled,
and show that God’s love isn’t scared to feel
the pain of touch to make all new, to heal.
…the astonishment of the Angels: for it is not in them (pure spirits), but in the human race, that God unites himself, and the Son of God incarnate “is not ashamed to call us his brothers.”
Flames of fire, yet only servants. They long
to look into what we hold as child:
God-made-flesh. Not all the heavenly throng
are called “brothers”, but we are: reconciled,
dust transformed, while they only herald.
Do they marvel, or rival? One envied,
and fell beneath us. Unparalleled,
the Son chooses depths, yet uplifts, died
yet gives life. Let the angels adore Him;
let them fall before His throne ablaze in
the glory of Him and Father Elohim.
Yet how should something so glorious begin
so small, so timid? No fire, no thunder,
just angels and shepherds gazing in wonder.
It could be that the wildest, strangest things in the Bible were the places where it touched earth.
(Marilynne Robinson, Lila)
Our minds jump too easily: from cradle
to grave – a Cross upon a hill. And yes,
this is where it tends. Yet first the stable
is where God, first time in wounded ages,
touches directly the things of earth.
Then He will walk, as He will tell others: Rise and walk. He will learn life’s shape, the girth,
as we all learn, by taste and touch and years.
Lullabies do no justice to this. It
fragments and fractures. Yet it also meets
where deepest, frailest longings fail to fit
the structure of existence, gives hands and feet
to all that we have heard yet have not seen,
and binds together every break that’s been.
What did you expect when you came to see
The baby, all wrapped in swaddling bands?
A king, mighty, radiant in glory?
A beaming cherubim, good will in his hands?
Did you come to bow or to learn or be
Affirmed by all that you saw? Herod bore
No risks; and the heavens were certain that He
Was exactly the one wise men had looked for.
This only shows half of the truth. Alpha,
Omega, the Word in His world, the Light
At the core of all being; the Morning Star
Who speaks, and it is; the Father’s delight…
What child is this, you ask? I will tell you:
The one the teeming universe calls to.
…Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
I hold You; I bore You. Yet You cannot
be held by me. The story told from first
honours me but exalts You more: a dot
at the start, impossibly small, yet burst-
ing with life. How could this all be? I did
not make it so. I held You, I hold You,
yet Glory made You. I grew You inside,
yet You grew me. Your breath shows it is true:
so dependent, so in need of me.
Can I hold my saviour so? Can I birth
the world’s one hope, like fruit from ungrown tree?
Can my maker grow from this virgin earth?
All things out of nothing He grows, and so
my nothing He has given mother-glow.