Sunday, December 8

Now the Heavens Start to Whisper [Mary Louise Bringle 2005]

Now the heavens start to whisper, as the veil is growing thin.
Earth from slumber wakes to listen to the stirring, faint within:
Seed of promise, deeply planted, child to spring from Jesse’s stem!
Like the soil beneath the frostline, hearts grow soft to welcome him.

In Fargo it has turned cold.  Most days do not rise above freezing now and soon we’ll be reminded of the bitter cold of days with no temperature above zero.  Both earth and water begin to feel more like stone beneath one's foot in the heart of Winter.  And yet, there is a profound beauty in Winter here.  Nights so clear and crisp they take your breath away.  A night sky of utter darkness except that it is pierced by brilliant stars everywhere.  The daytime sky is cobalt blue, and both of these stretch heavenward over landscapes of shimmering snow.
The heavens do seem to be whispering to me of late.  Intimating that there is good news of great joy soon to come.  Mary and Joseph were approaching. the good news of great joy surrounding the child that was almost due.  The birth of any child is a wonder and a miracle, and they must have entered the final weeks before Jesus' birth full of hope, and worry, and wonder too I imagine.
The gospels don't give us much information about the personalities of Mary and Joseph.  We are left to fill in the gaps around the few hints we are given.  I don't know why, but in my imagination I have always thought of Joseph as a kind, but taciturn man - not prone to public displays of emotion.  Mary, in my imagination is a contemplative - someone who is able to hold things in her heart and ponder them.  So I think of Mary and Joseph, who in my imagination are both quiet people, making their way toward the birth in silence.
Thomas Merton writes of silence: "The purest faith has to be tested by silence in which we listen for the unexpected, in which we are open to what we do not yet know, and in which we slowly and gradually prepare for the day when we will reach out to a new level of being with God. True hope is tested by silence in which we have to wait on the Lord in the obedience of unquestioning faith." [p.76 Essential Writings]
These weeks before Christmas are a good time to let the Winter weather lead us to times of contemplation and silent reflection.  We are trying to break through the hard exterior of our hearts and find something pliable and capable of transformation within. The hymn reads, "Like the soil beneath the frostline, hearts grow soft to welcome him."

Daily Collect:
Seed of promise, deeply planted, child to spring from Jesse’s stem - you are the one we have hoped for and longed for from one generation to the next.  Help us, Lord, to prepare the way by softening  our hearts and preparing to be your hosts this Winter.  Amen.

Paul Lang