Time is undone, and the light will swiftly come.
Can you feel it? Can you begin to see it?
We are still waiting, still it is dark night, and yet … joy. We know the light is near because there is joy.
“Let us View With Joy and Mirth”
Let us view with joy and mirth
All the clocks upon the earth
Holding time with busy tocking
Ticking booming clanging clocking
Through the stars and winds and tides.
Who can tell where time abides?
Foolish clocks, all time was broken
When that first great Word was spoken.
Cease we now this silly fleeing
From earth’s time, for time’s a being
Bows before him
Who upon the throne is seated.
Time, defeated, wins, is greeted.
Clocks know not time’s loving wonder
Day above as night swings under,
Turning always to the son,
Time’s begun, is done, does run
Of the morning
Time, mass, space, a mystery
Of eternal trinity.
Time needs make no poor apology
For bursting forth from man’s chronology
Laughs in glee as human hours
Dance before the heavenly powers.
Because the Son
Swiftly calls the coming light
That will end the far-spent night.
– Madeleine L’Engle, from The Irrational Season
It is at about this point in the season when I despair of reading every one of the books in our Advent / Christmas / Winter collection.
But then I remember – Christmas lasts 12 days! Of course, we’ll get to them. We only need a few more snow days to help us along.
Here are three more of my favorite books for the time of year.
Madeleine L’Engle’s The Irrational Season (The Crosswicks Journal, Book 3) makes excellent reading any time of year, but it is especially nice to pick up at Advent time. L’Engle’s meditation on the seasons of faith and life follows the traditional calendar of the Christian church, beginning with Advent.
There are so many things I could say about L’Engle’s work, I hardly know where to begin. Perhaps my favorite thing is L’Engle’s commitment to asking difficult questions. What I discover in her books – and in the Crosswicks journals, in particular – is that unknowing is not a scary place to be. In fact, L’Engle shows us that we can sometimes experience God’s presence in more beautiful and more comforting ways when we take the time to sit with the questions we do not have answers for.
Also, L’Engle’s family home, Crosswicks, has been described as a “farmhouse of charming confusion,” which pretty much sums up the thing I most hope to attain in life.
Hisako Aoki’s Santa’s Favorite Story: Santa Tells the Story of the First Christmas (with illustrations by Ivan Gantschev) is new to me this year, passed on by a kindred spirit.
This is a beautiful little book in its own right, but it is also a book that fills a very big need. Whether or not yours is a Santa-believing family, children can use our help integrating Santa (who is unavoidable this time of year) and the babe in the manger. Simply and sweetly (but not too sweetly) this book does exactly that.
Santa is still Santa (he works hard to share gifts with everyone, particularly, in this book, small forest animals), but he knows Christmas is not all about presents. In Santa’s words,
“Love was the gift God gave to us on the first Christmas, and it still is, you know.”
I appreciate that this book does not give us another storyline about Santa. It simply uses Santa, a character every child knows, to speak the most important story – the life-changing true story – of the first Christmas.
Lastly, we always make time for at least a few readings of Holly Hobbie’s Let It Snow (Toot & Puddle). If you have not already made the acquaintance of these piglet friends, well then, I feel privileged to point you in their direction. These are books about the pleasures of friendship, the seasons, and the varied joys of far-flung travel and a quiet life lived close to home. Let it Snow offers more of this with the added drama of choosing just the right gift and wondering when it might snow. If I weren’t reading these books with wiggly children, I would feel inclined to pour a cup of tea before beginning each one.
Let me be explicit: Toot and Puddle are not just for kids!
I’ll be sharing a few more seasonal books next Saturday, but I’d love to know … what are you reading?
I recall that the One to whom we cry is no longer an infant, and this feels both wonderful and terrifying.
We begin to see him as he now is in dreams and poetry, for only metaphor can give us a glimpse of the truth: “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire … his voice was like the sound of rushing waters” (Revelation 1:14,15).
Here, on this second Monday of Advent, is a poem from Madeleine L’Engle. She who dared to imagine and yet still dared to pray.
Come, Lord Jesus
Come, Lord Jesus! Do I dare
Cry: Lord Jesus, quickly come!
Flash the lightning in the air,
Crash the thunder on my home!
Should I speak this aweful prayer?
Come, Lord Jesus, help me dare.
Come, Lord Jesus! You I call
To come (come soon!) are not the child
Who lay once in the manger stall,
Are not the infant meek and mild.
You come in judgement on our all:
Help me to know you, whom I call.
Come, Lord Jesus! Come this night
With your purging and your power,
For the earth is dark with blight
And in sin we run and cower
Before the splendid, raging sight
Of the breaking of the night.
Come, my Lord! Our darkness end!
Break the bonds of time and space.
All the powers of evil rend
By the radiance of your face.
The laughing stars with joy attend:
Come Lord Jesus! Be my end!
– Madeleine L’Engle