Monday, December 30, 2013

First Cry

Jesus' guardian angel.  From the Rev. Kimberly Bohan's series, found at and reposted with permission.

* * * * *

Zadkiel stood shaking, with his wings covering his face.
Michael came to him.  They were not easy companions, these two, but Michael could feel Zadkiel’s terror, and knew he must stand guard.
‘What’s wrong? Why are you afraid?’
‘He wasn’t supposed to see me.  He wasn’t supposed to know.’
Is that all? Michael wondered, a glance from Jesus, and he’s overcome?
Oh God — why did you choose this angel?
Michael tried to reassure him. ‘He may not have, you know — they don’t see much at first.’
But both Michael and Zadkiel knew there was no truth in it.  There had been a moment, just after first cry, when Jesus looked at Mary, then at Joseph, and finally at Zadkiel, who shimmered bright gold — and who remembered to hide himself just as Jesus reached out for him.
‘But he saw me.  I felt it.  The air broke with his cry and I wanted to laugh, but then– when I looked at him…
‘You know what it’s like when God is at play — when he comes to you and chats and dreams and spins out Creation’s plan?  You know how it is when Sophia teases, and God jokes, and they draw you in and you laugh and dance, and just for a moment you forget they are God?  And then suddenly you feel your heart expand, love for them surging — and you must stop it, quickly, before they notice and you make a mess of everything?’
Michael watched his companion closely. Did he know?  What this how he experienced God? Maybe.  Sometimes — but he usually saw a different side of God. He nodded for Zadkiel to go on.
‘I have always been afraid of that moment — afraid that if I gave myself to it, and they realised…’   Zadkiel fell silent and tucked down his head.
‘Then?’ Michael prompted.
Zadkiel shivered.  ’Then it would be too much.  If the love were let loose, if they saw it, it would overwhelm me.  Everything would change.’
This Michael understood. The moment of change. So he waited…
Zadkiel uncurled himself and looked at Michael — could he really be saying this? to Michael of all angels? But they both knew what had happened, and there was no point in denying it now.
‘When Jesus looked at me, I forgot to hide.  All the love I’ve ever felt, I’ve ever avoided feeling, filled the space between us as the air turned gold.’
‘And everything changed?’
‘And everything changed.’
Michael thought of the vast complexity of God — the mind that set the universe spinning, the imagination that gave beauty and light, the love that shimmered bright on the air.  And yet it all came down to this: God in a manger, a new born child.  Michael marvelled at the daring of it: God come as a child who could not be ignored, from whom no one would think to hide.

source and ending

Blessings to you all on this sixth day of Christmas.  May the year to come be bright.

Photo co-posted at

Monday, December 23, 2013

O come, Emmanuel

O Emmanuel…

God with us.

What we long for and need so badly.

And yet could anything be more shocking than the Incarnation?  The One  through whom all things were made suddenly needing to squall to be fed and changed?

We can tame this into a painting, lovely and safe, but there was nothing of safety about it then.  Nor is there now.   Do we dare consider playing with fire?  Once lit, there is no going back.  Not for the universe, not for us.  Like it or not, everything is different now: wild and purposeful, a flame appearing suddenly in that place where our eyes had been accustomed to darkness.  Will we look away or risk being set ablaze?

And when we say yes as Mary did so long ago, as we say yes as God did to us – does to us! – where will we be led?  In what stable will Christ become incarnate in our lives today? 

goat manger, Darbonne, Haiti

O come, o come, Emmanuel… Be born in us today.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

O Radix Jesse

O Root of Jesse, you stand for an ensign of the people; before you kings will shut their mouths and for you the Gentiles will seek: come and deliver us, and do not tarry. 

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem Gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare. 

There is a flower sprung of a tree,
The root thereof is called Jesse,
A flower of price;
There is none such in paradise.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

come, hidden Wisdom

I cannot think unless I have been thought,
Nor can I speak unless I have been spoken.
I cannot teach except as I am taught,
Or break the bread except as I am broken.
O Mind behind the mind through which I seek,
O Light within the light by which I see,
O Word beneath the words with which I speak,
O founding, unfound Wisdom, finding me,
O sounding Song whose depth is sounding me,
O Memory of time, reminding me,
My Ground of Being, always grounding me,
My Maker’s Bounding Line, defining me,
Come, hidden Wisdom, come with all you bring,
Come to me now, disguised as everything.

-- Malcolm Guite
Cambridge, England

I found them originally at

O Antiphons: O Sapientia - O Wisdom

O Sapientia

O Wisdom, 

coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,

reaching from one end to the other mightily,

and sweetly ordering all things:

Come and teach us the way of prudence.

Monday, December 16, 2013

angels we have made in the snow

I love snow angels.

I love making snow angels.

I hear I'll have the chance after tomorrow's snow, too.

Here's one from a retreat a few years ago:

snow angel, long retreat in Duxbury, MA

But the one that is brightening my evening is from The New Yorker. Perhaps you've seen it, but in case you haven't, I'm sharing.

Pope Francis making a snow angel
New Yorker cover, December 23 & 30, 2013

Thank you to the Huffington Post for posting it, along with the following:

Much has been written about Pope Francis' humble personality, but the image of him on the cover of this week's New Yorker perfectly captures the Pontiff's joyful nature...
The pope's recent apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium raised eyebrows with its condemnation of capitalist culture which promotes an "idolatry of money," but the document as a whole is about the exultation to be found in God. Evangelii Gaudium literally means "The Joy of the Gospel," and the first line says, "The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus."
What could be more appropriate in this season of Advent?

Joy to the world, and to you all, too, as we await the coming of the Savior.  Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

snowy grey beauty

A dark, snowy afternoon has its own beauty...

 the end of Harden Hill Road looking onto Duxbury Bay

snowy rowboat, snowy cove
dock and sea grass through falling snow

low tide with snow on the sea grass shelf

snow on holly bush

trees outlined in snow against the greys of Duxbury Bay and sky

The geese have headed out!

goose tracks in the snow

...and its own birds.

chilly, puffed out sparrow in falling snow

Canadian geese on the frozen mud flats, low tide Duxbury Bay

Canadian geese taking off

Canadian geese in flight

Canadian geese flying, long line

two sparrows and a junco, Bonnie Cabin steps

bluebird, snowy branches
Little advents of God are all around us.

Monday, December 9, 2013

an Advent prayer

Advent II at SSM Duxbury


 Keep us, O Lord, while we tarry on this earth, in a daily serious seeking after thee, and in a believing affectionate walking with thee; that, when thou comest, we may be found not hiding our talent, nor serving our flesh, nor yet asleep with our lamp unfurnished, but longing and waiting for our glorious God for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Emptiness - Advent

What if the emptiness were one of
expectancy? Of hope and anticipation?
Of leaving room to be filled?
Not all emptiness is the same.
Wide open places of the heart
Bleak spaces, cold and desolate
Space for innumerable stars to shine in the night
Space between buildings in a blizzard
A crib, empty, waiting for an expected child
A crib, empty, after the slaughter of innocents
Which is this emptiness?
May I choose?
I do choose emptiness, after all.
An emptiness of the night sky just before
     the stars appear
An emptiness like the inside of a flute
     – the reed of God, Caryll calls Mary –
     so too for me?
I will leave room.
I will wait.
The filling is not up to me.
It will come.
The night ahead catches its breath
then settles into a peaceful longing
which is in itself part of the hoped-for,
long-anticipated gift.

sarahssm | December 3