Sunday, 30 November 2014

Advent- the meaning is in the waiting


Moments of great calm
Kneeling before an altar
Of wood in a stone church
In summer; waiting for God
To speak: the air a staircase
For silence: the sun's light
Ringing me, as though I acted
A great role. And the audiences
Still: all that close throng 
Of spirits waiting, as I,
For the message.
                Prompt me God
But not yet. When I speak
Though it be you who speak
Through me something is lost.
The meaning is in the waiting.

It is hard to believe that it is December tomorrow. It seems such a short time since the end of the summer and the return to college. Although I am not keen on the dark mornings, or scraping the ice of the car with numbed fingers, nevertheless I love this time of year and in particular find Advent invested with meaning. I always try to read something that will help me reflect on Advent during December and this year I am reading a book by Paula Gooder which takes its title from the last line of this poem by R.S.Thomas. So many Christian books are, to be quite frank, just so much drivel but so far so good with this one and I think it might prove a meaty and meaningful read.
I am not a patient person, yet when it comes to Advent I don't have a problem with the waiting. I am not enormously fond of Christmas day and it is the intense spirituality of Advent, shrouded in darkness, unknowing and anticipation that appeals to me more. In the spirit of waiting, I am trying to take some time out this Advent, and, even in my reading, to pause, reflect, to write about or pray about what I read. It isn't easy because I constantly find myself lacking time and rushing from one thing to the next. I know it isn't just me. It is a common complaint for most of us, isn't it?
Today, I spent some time thinking about the poem above and found it brought to my mind most powerfully the experience of Quaker worship, not the sort I usually experience where I fall asleep or my mind wanders off and I start making "to do"lists, but the rare but beautiful moments when silence is all that is needed and quietness it is an end in itself and not a waiting room or adjunct to something else.
That is when the meaning is in the waiting.

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