The fog had drenched the garden, leaving puddles on the patio, cocooning the house. We bundled into the car to go to church this morning, watching the skies part to reveal patches of blue.
It has been a week of excitement and of waiting and of prophecies, apocalypse, and Christ’s early ministry in Mark’s Gospel, reading the lessons of Morning and Evening Prayer.
The excitement in our house has been the release of my fourth novel, Hana-lani, a story which, as OakTara’s press release says, is compelling literary fiction, “A poignant journey that unravels T.S. Eliot’s permanent questions, what is goodness, truth and love?” This short novel set in Hana, Maui, about the definition of love, was a joy to write, and to see it in print, holding it in my palm, was nearly like seeing a child born, certainly a child born of my heart. On December 3 it appeared online on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and will be available in other venues soon.
Surrounding this birthing-joy is the waiting of Advent, this time of prayer and penitence, this time of reflection as the great festival of the Incarnation nears. I have found that reading the Morning and Evening Offices in our Book of Common Prayer, while difficult at first (there is always something else to do), has renewed me as though I have gone on a restful retreat. Setting the time aside (a mere 15-20 minutes) to move in the worlds of Isaiah’s fierce warnings and John’s apocalyptic answers has pulled me, in some way, outside of time, for this short time. It is as though I have paused in my temporal life journey to inhabit another world, a world softly enshrouding and nourishing me. I emerge from the cocoon of words and prayers, to see the blue sky.
It is like the Collect for Advent: give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life…, a prayer I am trying to memorize.
And it is like the first chapter of John’s Gospel, which I am attempting as well, after my meager success last Lent: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
Darkness and light. Advent is a dim time of partial darkness, the fog swirling about us, obscuring our vision, but we grope, we pray, we see Christ face-to-face in the Mass. St. Peter’s today was like an ark, carrying us through this fog and dark, safe on the seas of this strange temporal world we live in. The nave was warm with its oak pews and red carpet, the sanctuary welcoming with its purple altar hangings, the Advent wreath with two of the four candles burning brightly to the left, the Gospel side. We sing together in this great ship of the Church, as the Body of Christ, O come o come Emmanuel… ransom captive Israel. And as we journey through these few weeks before Christmas, we re-enact the great story of mankind, man’s own captivity, his own need for saving. His own need for light, life, love. We journey together, bound together by the love of God in his Church.
After Mass I watched the children rehearse the Christmas Pageant, their clear voices ringing through the nave, their small hands holding black binders with great intent. The organ played and I knew this quiet gathering was only a rehearsal for the glory to come.
That first chapter of John’s Gospel, I had forgotten, is the assigned Gospel for Christmas Day. An appropriate passage for Advent, I thought, as the fog cleared and a blue patch of sky showed me a bit of the heavens, as the light shone in the darkness…