Sunday, November 01, 2009

Labora et Labora

Advent is coming, and, if you ask me, not a moment too soon.

I am sick of the Jolly Green Giant of ordinary time. So what is this, already, proper 67 ? Deo gratias for today's All Saints' flash of white, and the white of Christ The King three weeks hence.

I may squint at it, deer-in-the-headlights, and cower; I may choke up, improbably, inexplicably but predictably, singing Lesbia Scott's rollicking I Sing a Song of the Saints of God with its doctors and wild beasts and tea shops; I am, after all, a theological hysteric, given to hand-wringing and invocations of the outer darkness, to adulterous pinings after Zendos and the Vatican. But I know what I like, and its the two grand penitential seasons of the Church Year.

Bring on the bolts of ecchymotic, early-twilight purple, I say. Bring them on !

Advent is lack. Emptiness. The time before. It is a compound of dark and cold, mourning and desire. It is bereavement, yearning, bafflement. It is interrogation, silence; it is a hand pressed to the chest.

It is a whistle in the dark in the saddest key.

What better place to celebrate the advent of Advent than in an empty autumnal community garden, reveling in the decay that follows the harvest, ecstatic in a screeching, oddly warm wind ?

Oh, the affinities I feel with the bedraggled and overlooked ears of corn !

and with the bittersweet pods that have refused to open !

And with the pod-like sleigh bells, patiently awaiting what lies beyond the furious combustion of these last autumnal days,

when the ruddy season plummets over the edge and and freezes white.

In the meantime, I am all thorn and dead air. Not much is getting through the labora et labora of my recent days. Little flashes of white, someone's cold hand, an inkling of what lies beyond Advent; of what, of course, is already and always present,

but that I flinch from and flee, preferring the shell and the shadowy leaf-cradle

to that hard light.

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