Adventia, day 7

December 5th. The Second Sunday of Advent. Sometimes, in terms of prophetic Scriptures, the Sunday representing hope. The gravitas of a future better than our past, of something yet to come that outshines the gloom of dark days, uncertain and fear-filled.

I can’t say this is necessarily that, but it is a new one all the same. And, if it helps to birth hope, all the better.

Advent

Cup before the pour, cocoa, or tea.

Clouds, rain-swollen, before taking their moment.

Hearts before words, warm and rightly spoken.

Page before pen, story pushing out to meet its maker.

Inside, a child gazes out at virgin snow.

Child, new and eyes closed, before the first embrace.

Car, keys jangling in shaky hands, before first welcome.

Night, old and disheveled, before day-gates open.

Gravitas, bodies’ ache, release of first touch.

Eyes, leaden-lidded, before the thick of sleep.

Tired world, sore of woe, looks East.

Adventia, day 6

Our offering for Adventia, day 6 comes to us by way of the Adventus Project, which did a wonderful Advent exploration last year. C. S. Lewis never disappoints!

What the Bird Said Early in the Year
C.S. Lewis

birdbig

I heard in Addison’s Walk a bird sing clear:
This year the summer will come true. This year. This year.

Winds will not strip the blossom from the apple trees
This year, nor want of rain destroy the peas.

This year time’s nature will no more defeat you,
Nor all the promised moments in their passing cheat you.

This time they will not lead you round and back
To Autumn, one year older, by the well-worn track.

This year, this year, as all these flowers foretell,
We shall escape the circle and undo the spell.

Often deceived, yet open once again your heart,
Quick, quick, quick, quick! – the gates are drawn apart.

Adventia – day 2

In my first post in this series, I explained the origins of my strange, made up word. Adventia, as I see it, is our foray into the headwaters of Advent – waiting, hoping, and preparing, together with Fragmentia, those literary illuminations of God’s in-breaking into our world to which we may unite the former.

For most of these we’re taking our cue from a favourite Instagram site of mine – #realpoetsdaily Today, we’re blessed by this gem by T. S. Eliot, from “East Coker.”

"But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting..." T.S. Eliot

Adventia – Day 1

No, the above is not meant as some cheap attempt at a New Joizy accent with the word adventure. I see it more as the amalgamation of Advent and Fragmentia: a place where the illumination of God’s in-breaking into our world found in the Advent narratives unites with the fragments of literature and faith and life seeking to bring us to deeper understanding of it all.

Advent is upon us once more. With it comes a barrage of books and practices all aimed at helping us get the most from the experience. My choice this year is to ride someone else’s coattails. Am I just too lazy to think of anything original? Maybe. To be honest, I just like the approach taken by someone I follow on Instagram – #realpoetsdaily 

So then, that is what I am doing for Advent…what they’re doing. I’ll post here but redirect you always back to their site. I give you, Advent, day 1.

“It’s the first Sunday in Advent, and like last year I plan on posting a poem for every day of Advent, and then for ever day of Christmas. Here is “First Sunday” by Sally Thomas (@sallytnnc).

Prayer

We press the world between pointed palms,

where the weary stretch for heaven’s notice.

Our best vision, through closed eyes – steps

weightless

on scabbed knees, waiting.

Wine-soaked, bread-fed words squeeze

themselves through parched lips to

arrange with dancing in mind. But first,

they must learn the art of walking naked, blindfolded

through haunted alleys,

danger-gripped, clammy with doubt.

We stretch out long necks, seeking only glimpses, emancipation.

But, the lecherous bully of shame spends all his time

butchering the still,

small voices of light that sneak

in through backdoors where hope still keeps

windows open.

Tragic, is it not, how shades pull tight against wayward shards

of sun, the down-payment for our breath?

Like running in snow, our legs just get heavier –

too much weight tossed about over time.

A leering fatigue replaces what’s left of inadequate strength –

thickness filling muscles too weak to move past their own demise.

Still, hope is what came, long after our tight-

cinched belt of faith lost its grip

and hungry shame gave way to

garden surrender.

Only then does our Amen make sense.

Lines from a French Train

Composed on a train somewhere between Paris and Montpellier, October, 2019

Sometimes, it is easier to find the whimsy

when there is no memory of a place.

Sharp jagged edges can polish themselves

out in conversations with fellow travellers.

Their questions are better than

my unqualified answers.

Laughter jumbles out, jostling about in

the accidental chaos of shared days –

days made strong in the looking

away from the timekeepers and toward

their owners. Remember,

we must all live our lives on our heels

sometimes. Then, we unburden our-

selves in the company of strangers.

I don’t assume the elbow room was mine.

This kicking straight of cramping

knees was not an action reserved for

my taxable legs.

I don’t pretend to know the steps to a dance

composed without my song, by other tribes.

Their rainbow isn’t signed by my god.

Nor is the stretching road built with

me in mind.

I don’t expect my expectations to equal

the readiness of others to serve them.

I don’t believe, even for a minute, the whisperings

of my inserted presence, that my voice

gets top billing, priority, and loudest.

My tongue is not the first or strongest, the purest,

or even necessary.

It is only,

mine.

8

Some of my favourite poetry is that which wrestles, dances with the rich imagery at work in the Bible. It doesn’t preach. It simply tells a story. It helps us picture what the original authors might have been aiming for. This is a poem written as part of a homework assignment for a theology course I’m taking.

It plays around a bit with Psalm 8. Let’s dance. It’s always God’s idea.

8

God, you have scattered your way

among stars, heaped about in the easy

wonders of your winking eye.

Our small and stuttered stance, hands

perched on brows, we squint against

the brilliance and tuck our ignorance

inside curiosity, piqu’d at your

grand and noble gesture.

We shine bright inside your shadow.

From there, at your behest, we are noblesse oblige.

It is in the suppler clay of faces you

do your best work –

the weary eyes of fawning mothers,

the stretching yawns of nipple-fed wains,

tossed high by fathers and friends,

and high school herds, stalwart tribes

trumpeting tales of borrowed conquest.

Foe, fallow-field, and fission –

all made from the same stuff.

What careless shrug dares dismiss so noble a kiss?

Who would think it wise to cork this wine

so ably poured from heaven’s fire?

God, you have scattered

my way among stars.

February 14, 2021 ©Robert A. Rife