Advent is the season of angelic visitations, miraculous births and joyful expectation. It is the season to mark not what is but what will be. The valleys have been raised up and every mountain brought low—the way is being made for the New. We are mindful and attentive, watching the signs. A baby will be born, a star will die and its brilliant light will ignite the night sky. Soon shepherds will encounter luminous messengers who burst with angel song, “Glory to God in the highest, shalom to women and men who find favor with God!”
All this, but not yet. Still we wait. Advent is a song building to a glorious crescendo. It stokes our expectations. We anticipate Christ’s coming, eager that in meeting again the Divine, we may be changed. The road is open, and there is now real potential: illumination, enlightenment, change, union.
Rami Shapiro is a Jewish Rabbi and a Zen poet (he studying Zen Buddhism with Leonard Cohen). His poem “There is a Hunger”(from Accidental Grace, Paraclete Press, 2015, pp 32-33), illustrates this sense of expectancy:
There is a hunger in me that no thing can fill;
a gnawing emptiness that calls forth dreams
dark and unfathomable.
My Soul is whispering; Deep calling Deep,
and I know not how to respond.
The Beloved is near—as near as my breath,
as close as my breathing—
The World Soul of
which my soul is but a sliver of light.
Let me run to it in love,
Embracing the One who is me,
That I may embrace others who are One.
Enwrapped in your Being,
I am at peace with my becoming.
Engulfed in your flame
I am cleared and unclouded.
I am a window for the Light,
a lens by which You see Yourself;
a slight of Mind
that lets me know me as You
and lets me know You as me.
How wonderous this One
Who is the face of all things.
Of course, Shapiro’s spirituality, as a Zen Buddhist Rabbi, is not particularly Christocentric. He didn’t pen these words in anticipation of some Christmas miracle. Certain lines hint at a pantheist union with all nature—the World Soul. However, if we believe as Christians that in Christ we glimpse the face of God, then our Christmas waiting opens up the potential of seeing Christ a new, in ourselves, in others, in the groaning creation. We will become a window for others to sense Christ’s presence. How wonderous this One/ who is the face of all things!
The way is open for God’s shalom. Peace is the promise. Swords will be plowshares, spears will be pruning hooks. Predation will cease. All will be safe and secure.
All this, but not yet. Still we wait. I am at peace with my becoming.