This time of year

When the year dies in preparation for the birth
Of other seasons, not the same, on the same earth,
Then saving and calamity go together make
The Advent gospel, telling how the heart will break.
Therefore it was in Advent that the Quest began…

C.S. Lewis, Launcelot

DSCN2272
(a December’s fading light / Carrollton, GA / Julie Cook / 2015)

And just like that the passing of a season has quickly come and gone…
as the taking stock of another year has all too soon begun.
With the sun resting lower against a sagging horizon, as evening shadows grow ever long…
we pull our jackets and sweaters a bit tighter as we hurry our way along.

With the time for merriment quickly filling the air, a waning season holds fast and tight.
We hurriedly now race from here to there seeking good cheer on a cold winter’s night.
With gifts being bought and packages to send…expectation quickly fills air.
Our hearts grow a bit bigger as our eyes grow wider under the whisper of each tiny prayer.

Endings bring about beginnings as the the second candle is silently lit.
While those captives of ages past now recite the holy writ.
With festivities quickly underway and hearts now merry and bright,
our hopes and fears have met again during the course a single winter’s night.

With the cards having all been written and the invitations quickly sent,
well wishes and good tidings are the sentiments now kindly meant.
The carolers have gathered together offering their glad wishes to those who give ear,
As their songs once again offer up hope and joy to a suffering world this mystical time of year.

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

Recollections

“Remembrance and reflection how allied!
What thin partitions Sense from Thought divide!”

― Alexander Pope

DSCN8821
(my mom’s little trio of antique carolers / Julie Cook / 2014)

It is at this particular time of year that our memories of times and loved ones long past, now seemingly forgotten, seem more clear and potent than at any other time.
Waves of melancholy collide into the crashing tides of joy leaving us with both tears and warm smiles mingling lightly upon the heart.
Recollections of the vignettes of a life once lived, a life which once seemed so far away, races rapidly now to the forefront of thought.

A tacky plastic ornament.
A cherished family heirloom.
A tattered and torn old card
A musty copy of A Christmas Carol
A fragile figurine
The sound of much beloved carols

Whether we are fortunate enough to be able to gather with those special and dear people of our lives
or merely recall their presence in our hearts, the often endless expanse of space and time miraculously narrows each year at Christmas.
No longer does death nor distance separate us–
For “God imparts to human hearts, the blessings of His Heaven”
As that which was, and that which is and that which is yet to be are sweetly
united and are “met in thee tonight”

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above your deep and dreamless sleep,
The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light,
The hopes and fears of all the years,
Are met in thee tonight.

O morning stars, together
Proclaim thy holy birth
And praises sing to God, the King,
And peace to men on earth.
For Christ is born of Mary,
And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.

How silently, how silently,
The wondrous Gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sins and enter in,
Be born to us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell:
Oh, come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel!

Lewis Brooks and Lewis Redner
1868