Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent and Homelessness

Dear Invisible Neighbor,

When Jesus came he found himself temporarily homeless, sleeping in the O AD equivalent of a garage.

Have you ever had to sleep in a garage? Are you considered homeless if you still have a garage that you can sleep in?

Little Lord Jesus, no crying he made, on his manger mattress.

My friend John was interviewed by the Associated Press the other day about homelessness. John works for the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions. He said, and the Washington Post quotes John saying that one-third of homeless shelter residents are newly homeless. I guess if Jesus came today, he would fall into that group of newly homeless. Plus he would fall into the increasing statistical category of women and children. This is a category that has doubled in the last two years.

Christmas has always been associated with good-deed doing for the poor and homeless. From Saint Nicholas to Good King Wenceslas, who on the feast of Stephen gave flesh and wine and pine logs to the poor peasant living in not much more than a stable between a forest fence and a fountain, neighborly folks with excess goods, have found that winter's rage is tempered by benevolence.

If the homeless, like Jesus, are sometimes invisible, let's pray that the Advent season gifts us with eyes to see and ears to hear.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An Advent Journey of the Magi

Dear Magi,

So, you had a cold advent, and a long excursion, regretting the summer palaces, but not the trip altogether. I suppose we all do that as the journey drags and lags and passes into retrospective. We monkey around in our minds with the things that have been steeled to confuse us. Birth and Death.

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.*
Or perhaps all time is redeemable in that one moment, not a bit too soon, that was satisfactory to all that needed satisfying. And redeemable in that one baby, arriving ready to teethe death.

Wholly remarkable.


 *Burnt Norton. T.S. Eliot's First of Four Quartets.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Dear Shepherds,

I had been waiting. That is a phrase filled with. . . but of course it is. And you were there, waiting as if you were hoping all your lives.
All my life I’ve been waiting
for something unusual to happen.
I may yet come into a windfall,
National Endowment of the Hearts.
All my life I’ve been expecting
a grand finale, an awakening, . . .*
And for you the grand awakening on a hillside in the middle of the night in the clear  was not so much a finale as a beginning that finalized everything else. So here, after waiting all your lives and finding the lowly shepherd lamb, you sing.

Thou must leave thy lowly dwelling,
The humble crib, the stable bare.
Babe, all mortal babes excelling,
Content our earthly lot to share.
Loving father, loving mother,
Shelter thee with tender care. 
Blessed Jesus, we implore thee
With humble hearts and holy fear,
In that land that lies before thee,
Forget not us who linger here.
May the shepherd's lowly calling
Ever to thy heart be dear. 
Blessed are ye beyond all measure,
Thou loving father, mother mild;
Guard thee well thy heavenly treasure,
The Prince of peace, the holy child.
God go with you, God protect you,
Guide you safely through the wild.
Holy Anticipation.


*Harold Norse  in All My Life I've Been Waiting

Chorus of the Shepherds (L'Adieu des Bergers)
from L'Enfance du Christ (Berlioz)
From: VAI DVD 4303 L'Enfance du Christ
Hector Berlioz
With John McCollum, Florence Kopleff, Theodor Uppman, and Donald Gramm
Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Harvard Glee Club and Radcliffe Choral Society
Charles Munch, cond. (1966)