"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The End of One Season ... Welcomes Another

The last 24 weeks on the Christian calendar have been what is known at Pentecost ... or Ordinary Time.  According to Sarah Arthur in her introduction to At the Still Point, "If Advent, Lent and Easter are the glitzy celebrities at the liturgical party, Ordinary Time is the plain auntie collecting dirty wine glasses afterward.  We almost forget she's there."  After all, Advent announces the coming of the Savior of the world with the scenes of a wild man dressed in camel hair.  Christmas heralds "Joy to the World! The Lord is come!!!" Lent is marked with ashes and fasting ... and mortality.  Easter, of course, is the highlight: He is risen!  He is risen indeed!  But except for the initial wind and fire falling upon the disciples in Jerusalem, Pentecost is marked by ... well, by ordinariness.  As the longest season of the liturgical year, it really has no high points; it boasts no showy colors or costumes. 

Pentecost provides a pause.  But it's a pause worth taking. 

As Enuma Okoro wrote:
This ordinary time is
gifted in its quiet, marked passing
Christ slips about
calling and baptizing,
sending and affirming,
pouring his Spirit like water
into broken cisterns,
sealing cracks and filtering our senses,
that we may savor the foolish
simplicity of his grace.

During this time, an E.B. Browning quote, ...Speak Thou, availing Christ! -- and fill this pause, stayed tucked inside the wreath surrounding my morning candle.

George Herbert's poem remains taped to a print on my bathroom wall.

Listen sweet Dove unto my song,
And spread thy golden wings in me;
Hatching my tender heart so long,
Till it get wing, and fly away with thee.

I've meditated upon Elizabeth B. Rooney's prose:

Must we use words
For everything?
Can there not be
A silent, flaming
Leap of heart
Toward Thee?

And what about the poetry of the Greek Synesius?

May my soul, her want perceiving,
Turn her gaze to where Thou art,
And in all Thy fullness find Thee
Food to satisfy the heart.

And lastly, "Love" by George Herbert

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lacked any thing.

A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?

Truth, Lord, but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.

And thus I have. 

But tonight marks the end of this journey ... this Ordinary Time ... this pause.  It has been good.  And it has been necessary.  But now the Thanksgiving wreath and orange pumpkin candle have been replaced by purple and pink and white.  Ordinary is replaced with anticipation.

Advent begins.  The end of one season welcomes another.

Just an ordinary moment...

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