Ok, so my Songs for Advent list is looking a bit frayed. ‘Get with the program!’ my beloved church secretary chides me. She’s right … as always. It’s almost Lent and I’m still humming ‘Silent Night’. Trouble is, and let’s be honest, the music of Lent is much harder work—beautiful, powerful, heart wrenching—but hard for my heart to cope with. Appropriately so I suppose. After all, we’re headed for the cross.
So, for this Lenten season I’ve decided to go for poetry instead. No doubt, beautifully constructed words move me, and often deeply. Poetry has a power all of its own. So I’m not letting myself off the hook altogether, but choosing a bit of space to feel things more slowly.
The first comes from the Welsh poet and Anglican clergyman R.S. Thomas. He passed away in 2000 at the grand age of 87. That’s him in the picture looking every bit the cantankerous Welshman that he was. But in the midst of his moodiness, he penned words that connected with people and lifted their vision. As I prepare for this season of Lent, anticipating the bidding of Christ to follow through some of the most difficult territory of discipleship, Thomas’s words remind me too of God’s anticipation, of what God knew was to come.
And God held in his hand a small globe. Look, he said. The son looked. Far off, as through water, he saw a scorched land of fierce colour. The light burned there; crusted buildings cast their shadows: a bright serpent, a river uncoiled itself, radiant with slime. On a bare hill a bare tree saddened the sky. Many people held out their thin arms to it, as though waiting for a vanished April to return to its crossed boughs. The son watched them. Let me go there, he said.