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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent: The Season of the New Adam

Advent is generally summarized as a time of hope, anticipation, and expectation. Often, we can find these themes in various scripture passages and in the writings of many of the saints. Occasionally, we can find shining examples expressed in the literary world. Madeline L'Engle was a gifted American writer who is often known for transforming her love for science, faith, and art into wonderfully expressive works of poetry. This poem entitled "Eve" is taken from the 1987 collection, "A Cry Like A Bell".



When we left the garden we knew that it would be
forever.
The new world we entered was dark and strange.
Nights were cold.
We lay together for warmth, and because we were
afraid
of the un-named animals, and of the others: we
had never
known about the giants, and angels gone wild.
We had not been told
of dwarves and elves; they teased us; we hid
whenever we played.

Adam held me. When my belly grew taut and
began to swell
I didn't know what was happening. I thought it was
the beginning
of death, the very first death. I clung to Adam and
cried.
As I grew bigger something within me moved.
One day I fell
and the pains started. A true angel came and
pushed the grinning
creatures back. Adam helped. There was a tearing.
I thought I'd died.
Instead, from within me came a tiny thing, a new
creature,
red-faced, bellowing, mouth groping for my breast.
This was not death, but birth, and joy came to my
heart again.
This was the first-born child. How I did laugh and
sing!
But from birth came death. He never gave me
any rest.
And then he killed his brother. Oh, my child. Oh,
my son Cain.

I watched from then on over every birth,
seeing in each babe cruelty ready to kill
compassion.
For centuries the pattern did not change. Birth
always meant death.
Each manchild who was born upon the longing
earth
in gratefulness and joy brought me only a fresh
ration
of tears. I had let hate into the world with that first
breath.

Yet something made me hope. Each baby born
brought me hurrying, bringing, as in the old tales,
a gift
looking - for what? I went to every slum and cave
and palace
seeking the mothers, thinking that at least I could
warn
their hearts. Thus perhaps the balance might shift
and kindness and concern replace self-will and
malice.

So I was waiting at that extraordinary intersection
of Eternity and Time when David's son (Adam's
too)
was born. I watched the Incarnate at his mother's
breast
making, by his humble, holy birth the one possible
correction
of all that I by disobedience had done. I knelt and
saw new
Adam, and I cried, "My son!" and came at last to
rest.


Prayer for Advent:

Lord Jesus, in these four busy weeks of Advent, help us to pause to remember the depth of your love for us. Beyond anything we deserved or could have imagined, love led you to a stable in Bethlehem and all the way to Calvary. Open our hearts to welcome you anew so that we can have something to share with a needy world each day.

Grant us joy of your friendship and bring us the strength, courage, and determination to
serve our brothers and sisters in your name.

Amen.
(Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary, Duluth, MN)

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