Advent 1: Expectation

Not expectant last year, we met
the season with a kind of still gratitude,
quiet in the truth that what had been
had been, and was not now,
grateful for months of frozen meals
and flowers (grief and surgery have these in common),
and hopeful that the next year must
be better at least than the one soon past.

How small our hopes. This year we find
the season catch us unawares while we
play catch-up on laundry and give our days
to calming two ever-opening eyes
and settle a mind eager to consume the world.

How quickly all this opens. Even
our almond tree from last year’s spring
already bears a handful of fruit
and life will run ahead of us now,
able to walk while we dazed ones still blink.
Nothing stays still very long…

Yet there’s a baby bursting in the midst of things,
catching our sleepless summer unawares.
Even now, when an eye-blink has transfigured our house,
even now our expectation’s small.

If I, He says, can do such a miracle as this
and made it easy work,
how much more after the labor of the world?

Luke 1: Zechariah and Mary

Portrait de Zacharie et d'Elisabeth - James Tissot (Brooklyn Museum, Wikimedia Commons)
Portrait de Zacharie et d’Elisabeth – James Tissot (Brooklyn Museum, Wikimedia Commons)
No surprise, perhaps,
    that the impossible’s not
a boundary    for the one who lit stars
and sculpted the mountains,           watered –
drew water from –    our rock.

Yet unexpected now, this figure
in temple,       in dreams,
beholding and saying
what’s seldom been said, more seldom believed:

The barren with child?
     A new way prepared?
        The virgin a mother?
           The hearts of the parents
                turned to their children,
        and souls taught to thirst after justice?

Behold –
these microscopic miracles of everyday grace:
Life folded in             zygotic life,
            faith found in anguish,
the courage of obedience,
speechlessness turned
to vocal trust,

     all caught up in
the moment of saying,
       “I am His servant.
    Let it be so with me.”