I have no memories of Advent growing up.
I don’t much like Advent songs.
But Advent is old – almost as old as Christmas.
It may shock you to know that the early church did not celebrate Christmas. That remained the case for hundreds of years. The early church celebrated the resurrection (every time they met on Sunday). The early church observed the crucifixion (every time they took part in the Lord’s Supper). The early church observed salvation (in baptism and preaching). The early church celebrated the baptism of Jesus. But the early church did not observe Christmas.
To the early Christian it was a pagan concept to mark birthdays. I don’t know that that was bad – or good. It just wasn’t particularly Christian. In fact, in the early years, Christians were more likely to record and take notice of the date of a saint’s death.
The earliest mention of Christmas from the ancient world is in 336. Literally 300 years after the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Advent in some form is attested to in the same century. In other words – the early church didn’t observe either – Christmas or advent. But for almost as long as there has been a Christmas, much of the church has also marked advent – as a time of preparation for Christmas. (more…)
When leaves fall down dead
smelling sweetly of rain,
and cold air at sunset
clashes with warm dust …
When long shadows join
to cover the earth,
and we are revived
from fitful and unquiet sleep …
things cannot last. (more…)
We beg you to speak
comfortable words –
warm, soft, and welcome,
easy to the tongue,
cotton wool kindly
to the ear.
We beg you to conjure
our homes –
the ones we make
like rats make nests:
out of appalling things.
You move like music,
something gentle (more…)
Do you all know the Robert Frost poem, “The Road Not Taken”? In it, Frost describes making a choice:
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
A number of different thoughts occur to him: he compares the two paths – how they look from where he’s standing. Perhaps he can choose one and then come back to the other another day. How will he feel in the future about it?
The poem concludes:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The problem with analyzing poetry is that what the poet is saying is sometimes less simple and clear-cut than we might make it out to be. In fact, I remember having this conversation with Alice Tarr. Now, she was talking about it in the context of teaching GED classes where students were asked to identify “the theme’ of a poem. Alice objected to practice because – and I quote – “If it could be said more simply, the poet would have said it that way.”
Nonetheless, this poem is meaningful to a great many people. I think that springs from the fact that we all make choices. We make them every day. Some of them are small; some are large. Many times we don’t know the significance of a choice when we make it. But as a rule, we can identify with the thoughts Frost shares here. (more…)
I’m starting a new blog today. If you’re reading this, that’s probably self-evident.
Blogging – like most public presentations of the self – creates a warped perspective.
In my other blogging lives, I have been limited by the narrowness of the topic – when I was writing for a specific purpose. I would never want to detract from that purpose or distract a reader with things that seem irrelevant.
It is also an unavoidable reality that speaking publicly has consequences that creep into your non-internet life. The combined effect of these interferes with complete honesty. Though I’ve never intentionally misled anyone – ahem … online at least – I’ve always felt that something rang false: the voice wasn’t truly mine, wasn’t the whole story. (more…)