I love the writings of Ann Weems.  I was first introduced to her writing when someone gave me her book Psalms of Lament. It drew me in and allowed me to have thoughts and feelings that I had suppressed. We shared similar losses in the death of a child. We spoke grief in the same way. But her thoughts on other topics like Lent and Advent are equally compelling. In researching her more recently, I learned she died this year. She wrote an unpublished poem “When You Hear of My Demise” and it is included in this wonderful article. http://www.pcusa.org/news/2016/3/22/ann-weems-presbyterian-poet-laureate-dies-age-81/

During Advent we all have dreams, expectations, hopes, longings, and good intentions. WE know we will get off the path and fall back into a little anxiety, a little worry, a little frustration that it is never just quite what we hoped for. But it can be, says Ann, in the following poem.

kneeling-in-bethlehemThis Year Will Be Different

“Who among us does not have dreams
that this year will be different?
Who among us does not intend to go
peacefully, leisurely, carefully toward Bethlehem,
for who among us likes to cope with the
commercialism of Christmas
which lures us to tinsel not only the tree
but also our hearts?
Who among us does not long for:
gifts that give love?
shopping in serenity?
cards and presents sent off early?
long evenings by the fireside with those we love?
(the trimming devoid of any arguing about who’s going to hang
what where?
the aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg mingling with the pine
scent of the tree,
and carols gently playing over our idyllic scene)
and the children! The children cheerfully talking about
giving instead of getting?
Who among us does not yearn for
time for our hearts to ponder the Word of God?
moments of kneeling and bursts of song?
the peace of quiet calm for our spirit’s journey?

This year we intend to follow the Star
instead of the crowd.
But, of course, we always do
intend the best.
(And sometimes best intentions tend to get in the best of us!)
This year, when we find ourselves off the path again
(and we invariably will!),
let’s not add yet another stress to our Advent days,
that of “trying to do Christmas correctly”!
Instead, let’s approach the birth of our Lord
with joyful abandon!
And this year
let’s do what Mary did and rejoice in God,
let’s do what Joseph did and listen to our dreams,
let’s do what the Wise Men did and go to worship,
let’s do what the shepherds did and praise and glorify God
for all we have seen and heard!
As for the Advent frantic pace, we don’t have time for that,
We’ll be too busy singing!
This year will be different!”

Approach the birth of our Lord with joyful abandon! Rejoice like Mary. Listen like Joseph. Worship like the Wise Men. Praise like the shepherds.

Oh, God, joyful abandon to you is Advent. Abandoning all else to the expectation of your wonder. It’s what I want. Amen