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Attentive at Advent

The poem is called “Annunciation.” You can find it in a lovely book called A Pentecost of Finches, written by Robert Siegel.

She didn’t notice at first the air had changed.

She didn’t, because she had no expectation

except the moment and what she was doing, absorbed

in it without the slightest reservation.

Things grew brighter, more distinct, themselves,

in a way beyond explaining. This was her home,

yet somehow things grew more homelike. Jars on the shelves

gleamed sharply: tomatoes, peaches, even the crumbs

on the table grew heavy with meaning and a sure repose

as if they were forever. When at last she saw

from the corner of her eye the gold fringe of his robe

she felt no fear, only a glad awe,

the Word already deep inside her as she replied

yes to that she’d chosen all her life.

I love this poem and read it often, not just at Advent. I sense Mary as a person who fills the space she occupies with intention. She seems at home and on task, yet aware enough to realize when something is different. It seems to me Mary must have had gifts of personhood, presence, and practice that left her unafraid and open, perhaps, even to glimpses of the holy.

The season of Advent brings an invitation and encouragement to us to grow more attentive for the presence of God. It comes to jolt us out of our complacency and to nurture us beyond life’s frenzy, fears, and preoccupations, to create space within person and community for healing and joy where struggles and sadness have been.

We will know Advent is doing its work as we awaken again to God’s visions and embrace of God’s love, mercy, and justice, not just for us, but for everyone.

We will know Advent is working when glimpses of the holy are followed by trustful imaginings of God’s presence always near, bringing visions of the Kingdom of God’s love coming true.

In anticipation,

Bob Guffey


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