It is fitting that the Church begins the year as it begins each day: in the dark of waiting.
That the Daily Office traditionally begins with a nighttime prayer is a potent and intentional reminder. We begin in need; stillness and trust are necessary, not in spite of but because of our vulnerability. We are people in need of a guiding light, and advent is the season not of seeking or making – but of waiting for the light to enter our dark night.
O Wisdom, be the candle guiding, my God, my brother, abiding.
I hope you can find something here to lean on as you walk through Advent toward the hope that springs evergreen at Christmas. Even in the cold.
Daily Reading & Reflection
I share Biola's Advent Project every year, and for very good reason. It's a beautiful collection of music, art, poems, and reflections that never fails to startle me out of what stupor has fallen upon my heart or mind.
The music selections always make their way into my playlists.
Speaking of music, The Mystery of Christmas is a playlist I put together to accompany the lighting of candles throughout the advent season.
I love this list assembled by Sarah Clarkson. It's got beautiful books, poems, and albums for what she calls "the watchful season," which is a beautiful description of Advent's active waiting.
Sarah also shared this lovely poem today (and will be reading one every day on Instagram), which I've included here to close out this impromptu newsletter. It's called Blackbird in Fulham by JP Kavanagh.
Blackbird in Fulham
A John the Baptist bird which comes before
The light, chooses an aerial
Toothed like a garden rake, puts a prong at each shoulder,
Opens its beak and becomes a thurifer
Blessing dark above dank holes between the houses,
Sleek patios or rag-and-weed-choked messes.
Too aboriginal to notice these,
Its concentration is on resonance
Which excavates in sleepers memories
Long overgrown or expensively paved-over,
Of innocence unmawkish, love robust.
Its sole belief, that light will come at last.
The point is proved and, casual, it flies elsewhere
To sing more distantly, as though its tune
Is left behind imprinted on the air,
Still legible, though this the second carbon.
And puzzled wakers lie and listen hard
To something moving in their minds’ backyard.