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Hallo again to all.

The last of daylight is turning to shadowy blues and mysterious purples on this Second Sunday of Advent. We found ourselves not able write until the light faded, as if the connections between Advent, Waiting with stillness and wisdom in Adventlight and dark, waiting, endings and beginnings were so strong that words wouldn't form till the meteorological conditions were right.

But this is a terribly Northern-Hemisphere world view. Whilst we're living with days of scant sun, longing for the winter solstice when the balance is tipped again, those of you in the Southern Hemisphere are basking in full sun and high summer. The day-to-day weather of Advent is quite different, depending on your place on the earth. The small matter of place divides us, even if we're united in the same liturgical weather.

How we experience Advent weather varies, but the eternal nature of this solemn and mysterious time remains the same for us all. During Advent, the church traditionally asks us to contemplate the end of time — our Lord's return* — and pay special attention to the 'Last Things': death, judgement, heaven, and hell. Solemn taskmasters, indeed. But if Advent is the season of the second coming, it looks toward the first coming: the Incarnation, the utter surprise of a God who, for love's sake, takes on the stuff and matter of this life, this mortal place and makes it home, a place of light and love.

But that light isn't switched on yet.

We need to wait, with the Four Last Things as our companions. They're admittedly not comfortable companions. In fact, most of the world papers them over with too-early Christmas shopping and drowns them out with too-bloody-soon Christmas carols. Avoidance of the Four Last Things creates more problems for our world than we can know, from the trivial to the terrifying.

Meanwhile, we wait in this strange, disturbing, still season, tucked into our places on this earth, caught up in crisscrossed lines of country and diocese, of matter grounded, and of love, so often limited. But throughout Advent — no matter when the sunrise, no matter how short or long the days — we are all stumbling towards the light.

Begin here.
Say that you have chosen it.
Say that it was your own hand that turned out the light, your own mouth that blew out the candle, your own eyes that closed themselves against the brightness.
Say it was your doing.
Say you needed the shadows, the darkness, that your eyes had begun to squint at the brightness, that the light had begun to make your head buzz. Say you needed the rest.
Say you asked for it. Longed for it.
Say you didn't.
Say it wasn't you who chose it, wasn't you who reached to turn off the light, wasn't you who snuffed out the flame, who covered your eyes.
Say the darkness stole up on you, say it overtook you, say it clamped its hand over your mouth before you could scream, its fingers across your eyes before you could take one last look at the light. Say it jimmied your door in the middle of the day, say it climbed through your window in the middle of the night and took sunrise with it.
Or say it simply called to you from where it stood in the doorway, looking longingly at you and winking its great pale eye.
Say you followed it home.

—'Darkness', by Jan L. Richardson, from Night Visions

See you next week, still sitting in crepuscular dimness and quite okay with that.

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All of us at Anglicans Online

4 December 2011

* 'And music shall untune the sky', from Handel's Ode for Saint Cecilia's Day' (Click to hear the sound of the trumpet on the last day.)

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