Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ironic Advent #21: The Real Beds of Earth


The shortest day is the longest night,
the gloom is whelming whelming
like in a Hopkins poem,
like . . . of course it's dark on December the 21st
but must it be this cloudy?
To whatever low degree you can see through the gloom and fog,
you see something like clouds beneath clouds beneath clouds,
and, at face level, those clouds 
sting your skin in the form of very very cold rain;
so don't look up if you're looking for false comfort. 

Not that things are all that unpleasant necessarily--
after the thaw and melt of ten inches of snow
and five inches of heavy rain of top of that
and the flooded fields and streets and basements
complementing the gloom, aforementioned,
and the complete lack of light shining 
in the East beyond them far or anywhere else for that matter.
So, I'm thinking, walking the dog in this mess,
it's a good thing he was born in Israel since
the wise men would not have been able to find Indiana
for the love of God.

Just sayin' don't think the Solistice means warm fires at the hearth
and warm glog to drink
and warm stories of the tribe of cheer and comfort and joy
and round young virgins and any of that.
And, for a truth you could memorize, neither does Advent. 
Advent is not optimistic about things in general,
and to say that the place is a wilderness or a wasteland or a dump
or a swamp is not to say that one is any more gloomy than the real world 
outside our windows, under our feet, stinging our cheeks. 

Optimism is a vice, and you need only read Voltaire to see why.
But hope is a virtue that grows in the real beds of earth--
dirt, and mud, and death, decay and sorrow.
Standing on the other side of my bed-ridden brother, who either does not hear or won't let on,
Dr. Brown, a world-renowned liver specialist and reader of Dante, tells me--
"Once we are realistic, then hope kicks in. Things are bad, we know that. But we are fighting. We can't say what the chances are, but as long as there is a chance, we will do all we can. And hope."

Hope is a virtue that neither delights in 
nor denies the gathering gloom.
To say it is dark here, now is not to say the light will not appear at all.
But to say, like some, that the dark is only illusion, 
and all dark is really light to the pure soul
is folly and an insult to those who know the darkness too well.

Advent is not optimistic, for it says the dark is dark, the gloom is gloom, 
and freezing rain flies in your eyes like sparks fly upward.
Advent is, however, hopeful, for though it is not the season of comfort, 
it is the reminder that we need comfort, that we need light, that we need warmth, 
that we need the one whom Advent says will come. 
Not yet, and still not yet, though.
the gloom is what it is, and worse, 
For the cold rain is now freezing on the highway for our God and U. S. 24. 

It would be dangerous and foolish not to calculate one's chances 
driving safely home in such a night. 
In fact, I just told Jenny don't drive home, the roads are just too bad
It would be equally dangerous to think that a daughter or a Savior will never return 
just because tonight the world is ice.
Advent says not yet, and still not yet. You must wait. 
Sing by your brother's bed. 
Cradle his head. 
Make sure your dogs and daughters are as safe and warm as you can make them, under the circumstances
(for the danger and cold are not an illusion);  
Then hope kicks in.   

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