I, who live by words, am wordless when
I try my words in prayer. All language turns
To silence. Prayer will take my words and then
Reveal their emptiness. The stilled voice learns
To hold its peace, to listen with the heart
To silence that is joy, is adoration.
The self is shattered, all words torn apart
In this strange patterned time of contemplation
That, in time, breaks time, breaks words, breaks me,
And then, in silence, leaves me healed and mended.
I leave, returned to language, for I see
Through words, even when all words are ended.
When I was a little girl my godmother, Aunt Camie, would give me a charm for a bracelet she started for me one Christmas. Every year I would wait with great anticipation to see what the charm would be—a candy cane, or a creche, or a sprig of holly—each with the year engraved in the back. The tradition died off in my teens, as did the joy that the little bracelet had once given me: no L.A. hipster would be caught dead in a gold Christmas charm bracelet! But then in my late thirties something sort of magical (and utterly predictable) happened: retro fashion and a tinge of nostalgia. Suddenly my charm bracelet was a touch point to my childhood and a foretaste of a life of faith that was to blossom in my thirties. Suddenly the red plaid full-length hostess skirt that my mother-in-law handed down to me was not ridiculous, but beautiful and Christmassy and timeless—a reminder not only of her elegance and early years, but of each of our passing years, marked anew each December with the gift of new life. Suddenly I was a servant of Christmas and not merely a recipient of its shiny, wrapped packages.
Today I wish the same for you. May your heart be flooded with memories of Christmas past, and in that wide-open state, may it receive anew the promises of grace given to us in Jesus Christ.
In the desert of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.
——W. H. Auden
Last year’s Advent favorite…
What do you think of when you think of Andy Warhol? Campbell’s Soup? All-night parties? Pop-art album covers for the Rolling Stones? You might picture a slight, frail, near-albino artist in tortoise shell glasses, but you probably wouldn’t picture him in the back pew of a Catholic church, genuflecting devoutly. But that’s where he was, several times a week for his entire adult life, his devotion to Christ a quiet, even secret, affair. Few people knew that he was a regular at a New York City homeless shelter where he served meals and spoke tenderly with the visitors. Nor that he painted 60 pop-art versions of The Last Supper, an entire series of crosses, another one of Madonnas, a Colorform-esque painting of twelve eggs, symbolizing the disciples, and a Madison Avenue-style poster that proclaimed, “Heaven and Hell are just one breath away!” On his nightstand, where, if his public persona…
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Today’s advent devotion is from the book Season of Promises by Mitch Finley:
The Advent season is a season of homely things—”homely” in the dictionary’s first meaning of the word, “characteristic of the home or of home life.” Advent is a season of homely things because during this season we prepare for the coming of a homely God, a God who is at home with us. Our God is so at home with us that Dame Julian of Norwich, a 13th-century homely English mystic and all-around practical person, said that God is “our clothing.” Imagine that.
Here we go through our day with God as our clothing, head to toe. God is our underwear. God is our socks and shoes. God is our dress or skirt, or God is our pants and shirt. If we live where winters are cold, God is the coat we put on before we go outside to face the cold. God is the muffler we wrap around our neck, and God is the winter hat we put upon our head. Imagine that.
Here we go during Advent, and God is our clothing. Looking forward to the birth of the Messiah, and God is our clothing. Oh delightful idea. Oh marvelous thing to recall while dressing in the morning. At night, when we prepare for sleep, God is the pajamas or nightgown we put on before we slip beneath the covers. Imagine that.
If we think of God as our clothing we will have less anxiety about “measuring up” to the standards established by a commercially driven fashion industry [or party-throwing, or gift-giving industry]. If God is our clothing, during Advent we can think more about ‘putting on the Lord Jesus Christ” (see Rom 13:14). Imagine that.
May we wear God well today and everyday of Advent. Blessings on the season.