Yesterday I stepped in poo - actual crap. That's always frustrating enough, but I didn't realize it and I went a good part of the morning tracking poop around with me. What a humbling reminder that I carry too much poop around all of the time (now I'm being metaphorical...just thought I'd clarify). Advent is a great time to shake it off, reach into the winter of my heart, and wait for God to arise in the most unexpected of places. Advent is the time for me to prepare for the collision of two diametrically oppsed realities - the reality of this world and the kingdom (not kin-dom, in this case) of God. God's ways are different from ours, and when God comes among us, it changes everything. There's no room in God's reality for the smelly stuff I track around !
I've already written how I keep an Advent calendar and light candles in my home, but there are all kinds of things to do during Advent that will shake the mess of the world off from our heels and remove a little of the stink that we carry with us. Reading poetry is something that I want to lift up as a good Advent practice.
Mary Oliver has a new book of poetry out called "Thirst." Clearly it is written in response to the death of her partner Molly Malone Cook. She is working through a lot in her writings, but she remains, as ever, the perfect observer of nature. Oliver is one of the best poets of our time. "Thirst" does not disappoint and offers us a great collection of reflections this Advent. I picked up a copy yesterday and have read it all through...twice. I recommend "Making the House Ready for the Lord" - a lyrical and visually compelling Advent poem. Poetry is perfect during Advent because good poetry is always pregnant with possibility; it looks around at the world and gives us a new view of it; and, it lifts up the hope for newness without forgetting the darkness of our souls and the frightfulness of the world. And, when someone like Mary Oliver is behind the pen, the humor of our lives eeks out into her observations.
"Thirst" invited me into the details of the world and away from the poop that I drag around with me all too often. Thank you, Mary Oliver.