Advent 22

Rehoboam made you his strength and on your soil David set his throne.
Many have fought for the right to your shelter, many have sought to make you their own.
Perched high on the hills of Judah, within reach of the most sacred place.
Behind the wall, the tower and fence, gripped firm by a concrete and wire embrace.
Precious city of many tongues, place of years and lives and history,
You gave to Rachel the gift of rest, sleep to Miriam the mother of mystery.
You are the inheritance of Ruth and Boaz and the ripest fruit of Jesse’s tree,
Sweet Bayt Lahm of scripture and song, calling of the pilgrims dream.
You stood sure under the stars as the angels sang, and before the soldiers gun,
Calling shalom to be reborn, in the blessing of the coming Son.

Advent 21

The walls stand as a final barrier to whatever comes beyond.

The light of the dying sun picks out the cracks and the gaps in its solidity. Green tufts emerge from tiny spaces, finding a home in impossible places.

It feels so final, bringing to an end this long walk. This road at least is done. Shadows fade and all is weary.

Hands reach out and play across the stone, touching the roughness. The history of deep birth and pain filled watching. Light fingers connecting to an ending.

He looks and smiles, an incomplete smile. Filled with words and fears, but flowing with rooted, grounded love.

We stand together by the wall, wanting so much to knock at the gate. But needing this moment. needing to pause and look and touch this ending. Before the inevitability of the night.

So much weight, it is all so heavy.

The journey has both drained and bound us. We have been rod and staff for each other, guiding, steadying, guarding hearts. Carrying each other, carrying so much. Each night in the dark we held, and fingers that now brush brutal stone, gently met and assured.

This has been a road where we have been made. Where youth was lost, where we grew into each other.  Spirits now so intertwined that separation is beyond even cruel dream.

It began in dreams and vision, and ends with uncrushable reality.

We saw the rivers and rocks, the barren places and today we walked through mountain fields  rich with life.  So close to the holy place. We felt it near, we saw it on the edge of earth, but it was not our ending, we turned and walked on.

The sun has now washed away from even the lowest stone, Our feet stand in the last pink of today.  All there is now is to move into the time that is between. Find space to be and to wait again, wait for what rides in on tomorrow.

One path is done, the next is to come.

Advent 13

The road is a lonely place to wake, every grain of earth and fallen leaf is new. The way the light breaks through the landscape, the smell on the first breath of wind, when the silence is split by alien cries and dawn greets in a foreign tongue.

Eyes take time to adjust and the mind a moment behind. The body feels all out of place and time, as it stretches the aches of the night, easing joints bruised by the makeshift rest and limbs weary from the road. The sights and smells, sounds and sensations of yesterday now weave into the whole journey’s pattern as space for today is made.

Breaking the fast brings some grounding. Watching companions feeling their skin, tired, tight and rough. Massaging warmth and life into still sleeping bones. Consuming heat from the steaming drink, feeling it seep slowly through the numbness.

Then we begin to prepare, binding struggling stretched muscles, patching torn feet. Packing what was pulled in haste from bags and blankets as the darkness had rushed in. Loading and balancing, smoothing out folds and lumps that might become knives and rasps through the day.

This is the life on the traveller, the wanderer, the pilgrim. The morning becomes a ritual that floats on the strangest of seas. Each day the farewells feel more distant but the faces of family grow closer. The further we go, the more painful the parting. The closer we get to our ending the more the uncertainty wounds. Things that seemed lifetimes away now stabbing fear in each step and each stop.

Do they stand on the wall and watch? Do they even know we are coming? Will the gatekeepers be ready to welcome us in, will the peacemakers open their arms? Will the fire be stoked, will the kettle be on? Will there be food enough for all?

But those are questions ahead and right now it is time to walk. God of the road be before us, God of the stream be alongside, God of the sky light our path, God of the fields and the furrows nourish, God of the dawn light our way, God of the hearth bring companionship, God of the journey lead on.