While putting the finishing touches to my own 2019 Advent book, it has been a joy to pick up my copy of Malcolm Guite’s wonderful Waiting on the Word and begin again the daily readings of poetry, elucidated by the thoughts of a great poet.
The first few poems in the book have to do with looking; in particular George Herbert’s The Glance and Christina Rossetti’s beautiful Advent Sunday, with its chiastic structure full of reflected looks, mirrors and eyes.
This reminded me of the following poem that I wrote a few years ago (one from the Drawn From Words booklet) which seems especially appropriate, given that the working title of the book I’m completing at the moment is Image of the Invisible.
Now we see only
through a prism, and dimly:
one day, face to face.
Prisms fracture light.
One true beam is divided
into slits and stripes
turning and intersecting
broken in spectrum.
In this web of light
image of the hidden God
catch me in your truth.
I have been very fortunate recently to be part of the launch teams for a few great books. One of these, which came out yesterday, is Tanya Marlow’s Those Who Wait.
It’s a gorgeous book which explores, through the imagined thoughts and feelings of four Bible characters, all the spiritual learning and longing that comes with waiting for something. From distant promises to urgent needs, the heartfelt desires of Sarah, Isaiah, John the Baptist and Mary are seen from the perspective of not-there-yet, which gives a new breath of life to stories whose endings can be a little too familiar.
I loved lots of things about this book. I loved Tanya’s skillful drawing of the characters so that each of them has a distinct voice. I loved her equally clever weaving of little common elements through all of the stories (I won’t give examples, because half the fun is in spotting them for yourself). I loved the combination of creative, imaginative retelling with detailed historical notes at the end of the book. I loved her prayers, her benedictions and her insightful, gentle questions after each chapter and section. And, being an Anglican and a season-dweller, I absolutely adored that the characters correspond with the candles on an Advent wreath; this book will definitely be coming back down from the shelf in December for journaling and prayer.
Whether you are waiting for a bus, a miracle or the return of Jesus, this book is super. Grab a copy now while it’s still at the introduction price. Lots more details and a link to buy are here.
Since yesterday was Advent Sunday, today I’d like to share a sonnet I wrote during Advent last year. Every Advent, we use a Jesse tree to remember the characters and stories that make up the bigger story of God’s saving plan for his world. Rebekah is one of those people, called out of her home to join the family of God. I was struck by the beautiful moment in Genesis 24:62-65 when Isaac and Rebekah see each other for the first time across a distance, and the parallel between the way they approached each other and the way we, as a church, approach the coming King who is on his way to meet us.
She saw the bridegroom, so she veiled her face.
Between them hovered hope, and the unknown;
Love longing lay between, across the space.
Love was between them, and was not yet shown.
Her love stepped out, stepped into the between.
Her beauty now belonging to his praise
Now that she saw him look, while still unseen
She veiled her beauty, waiting for his gaze.
Her advent brought him, searching, from his place:
His advent made her faithfully prepare.
She journeyed on, but now, she veiled her face.
He searched until he found, and met her there.
Is that my Love, come out to meet His bride?
Give me my veil, and bring me to His side.