O Antiphons

The O Antiphons are a sequence of seven Advent prayers written in the first centuries of the Church. These prayers call on Christ to come, addressing Him not as Jesus, for in Advent the Messiah has not yet appeared, but by titles given Him in the Old Testament.
The poet Malcom Guite has written seven sonnets in response to the seven O Antiphons. I am going to share two of them here with you today. The first is O Clavis, O Key, and the second is O Oriens, O Dayspring. The first speaks of the darkness of our humanity and our need for the Key to unlock our prison; the second speaks of the rising Morning Star that will come to illuminate all our darkness.
Linger over these. Read them slowly. Read them again. Let the Key, let the Morning Star speak to you in the stillness.
advent waiting
O Clavis
Even in the darkness where I sit
And huddle in the midst of misery
I can remember freedom, but forget
That every lock must answer to a key,
That each dark clasp, sharp and intricate,
Must find a counter-clasp to meet its guard,
Particular, exact and intimate,
The clutch and catch that meshes with its ward.
I cry out for the key I threw away
That turned and over turned with certain touch
And with the lovely lifting of a latch
Opened my darkness to the light of day.
O come again, come quickly, set me free
Cut to the quick to fit, the master key.
advent light
O Oriens
First light and then first lines along the east
To touch and brush a sheen of light on water
As though behind the sky itself they traced
The shift and shimmer of another river
Flowing unbidden from its hidden source;
The Day-Spring, the eternal Prima Vera.
Blake saw it too. Dante and Beatrice
Are bathing in it now, away upstream…
So every trace of light begins a grace
In me, a beckoning. The smallest gleam
Is somehow a beginning and a calling:
‘Sleeper awake, the darkness was a dream
For you will see the Dayspring at your waking,
Beyond your long last line the dawn is breaking.’
To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

The Deepest of Darkness

There is much darkness in our world.
It is tempting to believe it will always be so.
The darkness feels thick, impossible to escape.
We see glimmers of light here and there, glimpses of what should be, but the darkness continues to prevail.
Yet once in time, Light entered our world, and we who walk in darkness saw His face.
Light came
Light came for a time,
then He left, returning to the Father, leaving the darkness unchanged.
The same hatred, the same selfishness, the same desire to be God,
it all fills the earth just as much as it did before the Light was made flesh and dwelt among us.
Yet something has changed.
The quality of the darkness has changed somehow. It feels different.
It feels…
There is a frenzied quality to it, as though the darkness is no longer in its fullness, as though the Light who came was only a foretaste of what is to come.
There is much darkness in our world.
Yet the darkness that surrounds us feels now more like the deep darkness that comes just before the inexorable dawn.
glimmers of light
So keep watch.
Keep watch for the glimmers of light all around us.
Be a spark of light in the darkness around you.
No matter how dark the darkness, lift up your head and keep watch.
Morning comes
Morning is just over the horizon.


To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

Art credit: final photograph is by Kirk Sewell; all other photographs are copyright Made Sacred 2019

Face the Waiting

We are all waiting.
For a job.
For a child.
For a result.
For a friend.
We spend, it seems, much of our lives waiting.
When we are waiting, how do we behave?
We fidget, we fuss, we find a distraction.
Very rarely do we stop and embrace the waiting. Very rarely do we still ourselves and contemplate the waiting.
We often avoid leaning in to the waiting because the moment we stare into the face of our unfulfilled waiting, we are overcome with a strange longing.
For what, we are not sure, but there comes to us a lump in our throat, a tightness in our chest, a blinking away of tears.
And so we turn away. We turn to the diversion rather than to the waiting and believe ourselves to be satisfied.
Until we catch another glimpse of the waiting and discover ourselves to be empty.
Advent is a time for us to practice wrapping ourselves in the unfulfilled waiting.
unfulfilled waiting
It is a time for us to practice waiting well.
What does waiting well look like?
It means an active waiting, one that works toward what we are waiting for, just as a gardener waits for his crop of lettuce.
It means a patient waiting, a waiting that trusts in the sure coming of what we are waiting for, just as an astronomer waits for his star to rise.
Returning to our gardener friend who is waiting for his lettuce, it is a waiting that is peaceful, trusting that the waiting is purposeful, that the end depends upon the means.
This is Advent.
waiting well
It is a time for us to still ourselves and gaze straight into our waiting, knowing that even as He came once before, so will He come once again. Knowing that even as He will come again someday, so also does He come to us right now, in little ways, all throughout this in-between time.
In Advent we choose to practice the discipline of bidding welcome to our unfulfilled waiting,
knowing that in the proper time,
our waiting will be fulfilled.
To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

photographs copyright Made Sacred 2019