A poem for the first day of Advent

I love other people’s poetry, so I hope they (dead and alive) don’t mind me quoting them for this season. Advent, as a time of waiting, seems to me a poetic season that we can choose to enter into or ignore. If you were in church today in most mainline denominations, you heard something from the gospel about “learning the lesson from the fig tree.” To me that lesson seemed to be about watching for signs of hope instead of paying attention only to how much life sucks everywhere. Yet today’s poem tells us to wait without hope…

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

–┬áT.S. Eliot, Exerpt from The Four Quartets, East Coker, III (which begins, “O Dark dark dark. They all go into the dark.)

If any line says advent to me, it is in that last line: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing. Like so many mystics before, finding a connection between the darkness we experience in Advent as we wait in faith, hope, and love…(or in the waiting we find faith, hope and love…) That darkness shall be the light. That stillness the dancing.

I am left with questions…what are the wrong things to hope for? What are the wrong things to love? What are the thoughts I am not ready for? These are mysteries I can carry through Advent, looking for illumination in the darkness.

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