I just recently returned from a short video and discussion concerning Advent at the parish located here in downtown. The video was “Hope in the Darkness” presented by Fr. Michael Himes, for those who may need some reference point for what I’m talking about.
Without going into incredible detail about the entire video which is rather complex, exploring Augustine’s and W.H. Auden’s theological viewpoints on communication, time, hope, and expectation, I was definitely struck by one line from Auden’s poem entitled “For The Time Being”:
Nothing can save us that is possible
This particular line is chock full of meaning – even isolated from its immediate context – and is especially relevant here during Advent. Just think about it: the birth of Christ, God in the flesh, is God’s impossible possibility for all of us. And *we *know, looking back from *after *the birth of Christ, that this miracle will happen again: Christ will come again.
The point which Fr. Himes made during the course of his discussion was that our finances, our families, our friends, our cars, our careers, not even our churches will save us: it is only Christ who saves us. And only when we recognize that all these others things lead us into the desert where we thirst and seek for the eternal water will we ultimately come to Christ with open hearts.
I find this especially relevant in my own life as I have continually tried and sometimes still try to formulate my identity as someone who drives a red Toyota Camry, as a Catholic, as someone who likes specific style of music or singer, who prefers such style of interior design, etc. However, I’m also starting to see how empty all of these things ultimately are, how bored I get with owning something, how it becomes necessary to consume something additional again and again, and how nothing satisfies me like standing outside on a clear night and staring straight into the heavens…wondering…praying…hoping. Once, when St. Francis was travelling, it was pouring down rain, and at a certain point he dismounted the mule he was riding and stood for a very long time in prayer. When he finished, he spoke of how the soul needed its refreshment in God the same way that the body needs its refreshment in food, drink, and sleep.
When I think of that single line from Auden’s poem, my soul cannot help but echo the words of Zechariah:
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited and brought redemption to his people. *