…as if He were a seed in our garden,
or a small flash of light for our pupil,
He shone forth and diffused and filled the earth.
(Saint Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns for the Nativity)
Days crack like soil.
In the parts of the world where summer parches
we wait like potholes for the rain.
December’s slow refrain is singing
songs that speak of joy. Repeat
the sound of joy, though it may cloy
against the tune of years. We see
the line of kings; the throne, the rings
disappoint. The crown is twisted;
what can grow between these thorns?
A king, smaller than a seed
and vaster than the spheres.
After J.S. Bach, “Mass in B Minor: Et Expecto Resurrectionem”
We begin small:
a kernel dropping to soil
a weak and fickle seed
a broken passing moment
of what breaks forth
in polyphonic spring,
in vibrant alleluia
voices thrumming, harmony
from these broken chords
What we sow now, broken,
soon we reap
in harvest plenty,
our tears once fell:
Camille Pissarro, “The Harvest” Wikimedia Commons
Prayer of Preparation
After Gustav Holst, “Psalm 86: To My Humble Supplication”
Teach my dullness, guide my blindness
begin small –
soon bursting, soon
out into light.
Hear strings rise. Hear spirits lift
their weary, slowing hands.
See the sun open up the day.
See the Son open up
the way –
Lord, our souls are faint.
The day is bright, the sunlight blinds
and we have little voice to cry.
Hear and cleanse –
Cleanse our hearts,
the thoughts of hearts –
Magnify Your grace in us
that we may magnify Your name.
our dullness, guide
in this blinding day.
Hear our spirits soar
for all our desperate crying out.
O Lord, our rain
in reigning drought:
in brokenness we cry, we shout –
the strings of every aching one,
the strains of breath,
the stains of death.
and long – for all
desire is laid before Your throne.
Lift our hearts:
we lift our hearts
into Your shining day.
sown in good soil
dies, yet gives life
thirty, sixty, one hundred times over.
will scatter, be lost,
when cares and trials come
to choke, to scorch like sun’s temptation.
which dies gladly
is more than seed, more than earth,
more than the narrowness of our dust’s conceptions…