Advent Thoughts

We had a quiet retreat day in the house today to mark the last days of Advent. In our prayer time at the beginning of the day, my novice director shared this poem by Jessica Powers.

I live my Advent in the womb of Mary.
And on one night when a great star swings free
from its high mooring and walks down the sky
to be the dot above the Christus i,
I shall be born of her by blessed grace.
I wait in Mary-darkness, faith’s walled place,
with hope’s expectance of nativity.

I knew for long she carried me and fed me,
guarded me and loved me, though I could not see.
But only now, with inward jubilee,
I come upon earth’s most amazing knowledge:
someone is hidden in this dark with me.

Three Advents ago I first ran across this poem and the phrase, “Mary darkness.” I wrote at the time:

I love that - waiting in Mary-darkness, with hope's expectance of nativity. New life. I could indeed learn a lot from Mary. She said Yes, we know that. But that wasn't the end, it was the beginning. She then waited in expectant hope, living in the present while awaiting the new life of the future.

I can still learn a lot from Mary, but this Advent the poem struck a different chord within me. “I shall be born of her by blessed grace,” Jesus and me, the divine and the human, together. Mary, our mother, holding us in expectation, carrying us and feeding us. The light of Christ around me, beside me, within me … waiting to be born. In the darkness – yes, but it is Mary-darkness, it is a darkness characterized by expectant hope and by the companion light hidden in the dark with us.

In her letter to the Province, our Provincial Sr. Andrea quotes Henri Nouwen: “To wait open-endedly … is living with the conviction that God moulds us according to God’s love and not according to our fear.”

God moulds us according to God’s love and not our fear. I am created to live in love. To act out of love. To dream for love. If I believe that – and I sense a kernel of belief waiting in the Mary-darkness – then my fears are nothing to fear. God’s love is greater, Christ’s light in me will shine through my darkness.

Andrea ends her letter with this:

And mostly, I am super confident that the God who has begun this great work in and with us will continue to be with us as we move to the crossing place that is before us. Christmas is precisely this reality over and over – the most unlikely scenario for the coming of a savior – the One who will conquer death and bring life and hope and joy to the most vulnerable and forgotten – the coming of new life to all who will receive it.

Am I “super confident”? Do I believe the most unlikely scenario? That God comes to conquer death and bring life and hope and joy to the most vulnerable and forgotten … to me?

My fears are still there. My demons. But in the Mary-darkness, I sense the me God dreams me to be, the me moulded by God’s love, waiting to be born. And that's somehow stronger than the fears.

And so I pray in the words that ended our Advent prayer time together this afternoon:

O creator of all peoples
Whose voice echoes within our bones
As you throw the clay
The curves and crannies of all who live
Rumble and quake within us
To let the newly-born come forth.


Sr.Nicole Trahan said...

Wow... today seems to have been a very powerful day of prayer for you. Thank you for sharing that poem. I'd never heard it before. I will definitely share it with my novice director and assistant director.
May you continue to have a wonderful end of Advent ready to greet Christmas with joy!

Soutenus said...

This is beautiful and inspiring. Thank you for sharing