Advent I

It was only really when I started going to an Anglican church that I started to understand Advent… and realized how direly I need this season every year. As a kid in church, Advent meant Christmas pageant rehearsals and carol practices – our minister talked about making room in our hearts for Christ, but I didn’t really know what that meant. Joining a community where Advent brought prophetic readings and minor key hymns of longing, it suddenly made sense. Waiting for God was already a viscerally real experience for me. Advent gave me a space to mourn the brokenness of our world, and kindle quiet hope for God’s eruption into our lives.

I’ve chosen four poems I’ve written over the years that trace something of an Advent journey. Here’s the first.

God I’m tired

Of straining my eyes and my heart

Looking for you.

I’m tired

Of chasing you through moments

Of great hope and deep despair.

I’m tired of stretching my imagination

To see you in the sky, the sea, the stars,

In a child’s motions, a mother’s love,

A stranger’s compassion.

I’m tired of you being

Just out of reach –

Or so far away I think you’re a delusion.

I’m tired of glimpses,

Of moments, of almosts –

 

I want to touch you,

To feel your embrace,

To melt into your warmth.

I want to know you,

Your thoughts,

Your suffering love,

Your joys and sorrows,

Your peace and your longing.

I want to lose myself –

My little hopes and fears,

My clumsy loves and despairs –

I want to lose myself

In the sea of your being.

 

I want my ifs and whys

To fall silent in your presence.

I want my sceptic mind

To come to rest in your all-knowing.

I want the pain to stop,

The broken to be whole,

The doubts to turn to peace,

The multitude to be one.

I want no longer to be myself,

But simply

To be.

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A litany of commitment

This past week has been an emotional roller-coaster. Yet gradually I’m coming back around to what I already knew – as a society, as the Church, as activists, we have a lot of work to do, and we’ll need a lot of grace to do it.

St. Teresa of Avila wrote,

Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion is to look out to the earth. Yours are the feet by which He is to go about doing good, and yours are the hands by which He is to bless us now.

I wrote this litany four years ago as I was about to start my first job as a carer. Its words have rung true in many different situations since.

God, my shoulders are too narrow

To take up the burden of your calling,

But mine are the shoulders you have,

And it will be enough.

 

God, my back is too weak

To carry those who cannot walk,

But mine is the back you have,

And it will be enough.

 

God, my arms are not big enough

To embrace all who mourn and fear,

But mine are the arms you have,

And it will be enough.

 

God, my hands are too soft

To till the fields of your harvest,

But mine are the hands you have,

And it will be enough.

 

God, my eyes can’t see far enough

To look upon the kingdom I long for,

But mine are the eyes you have,

And it will be enough.

 

God, my voice is too small

To proclaim the day of your promise,

But mine is the voice you have,

And it will be enough.

 

God, my body is too tired

To keep watch with the waiting,

But mine is the presence you have,

And it will be enough.

 

God, my heart is too broken

To love the broken-hearted,

But mine is the heart you have,

And it will be enough.

 

God, my faith is too troubled

To keep your story alive,

But mine is the faith you have,

And it will be enough.

 

God, my hope is too fragile

To give strength to those who despair,

But yours is the hope I have,

And it will be enough.