I wrote this piece for episcopal cafe Sunday, and appropriately, they're running it today, Christmas Eve-- now, as I begin the final preparations for our quieter family Christmas celebration, I am aware, quietly, of the deep mystery of this celebration of the Incarnation -- it's something about Love coming among us, wanting to be with us, rejoicing when we find ways to be together, despite so many obstacles life offers. Without being able to put it into words I am learning something about this mystery, as I go about the practical, outward tasks of preparation. And I am grateful for this holy season.
Here's the piece:
For the past day I’ve been happily preparing for a party we’re giving for my husband’s co-workers, and humming as I go, the Advent hymn:
People look east, the time is near of the crowning of the year
Make your house fair, as you are able
Trim the hearth and set the table
People look east, and sing today
Love, the Guest is on the way
With two feet of snow on the ground, and our house on a cul de sac, it is now a little unclear when the party will actually happen – probably we’ll need to postpone it. But with the whole family home to chip in, and the house full of good smells and music, the time of preparation, surrounded by falling snow all day yesterday, has been a time of blessing – whenever the party may be. And out of it has come a Advent poem, which I’ll share here. Some readers of the café already know that my new book of poems, Waving Back: Poems of Mothering Life, from Finishing Line Press, is now out and available on Amazon. This poem is in the same vein as many of those poems – but it’s brand new (and likely to be revised beyond this version). I offer it to all of you, on this snowy Advent IV in Washington, when we pray “that our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming may find in us a mansion prepared for himself.”
Make Your House Fair
Today I will clean clutter out of rooms
Push sofas up against the wall
Begin the preparations for a feast.
The Christmas tree will glow
We will pull out the outgrown toys
To please our youngest guests
And friends from all over the world
Will fill our modest house
Loading the long table
With food that they will bring
Tomorrow, for a time, we will all be in one place
Greeting one another, noticing together
That once again, the festive time has come.
The darkness of the year is not dispelled
It lingers at the windows,
Weighs on hearts
For some there is no consolation here
But for me,
The welcome task today is to create
In this, our house, a place of warmth and light
To grow cramped space into a gathering place
Where for a time
In glow of fellowship, and whatever we believe
Together, we may celebrate
The crowning of another year of life.
Kathleen Henderson Staudt
- Kathleen Henderson Staudt
- I work as a teacher, poet and spiritual director at a number of institutions in the DC area. My teaching focuses in various ways on writing, poetry, Spirituality and Christian vocation and ministry - especially from the point of view of the laity. I also offer classes and retreats encouraging people to explore their inner lives, engage their creativity and reflect on their beliefs about God, vocation, and how we can discern and pursue new ways to transform our broken world. I enjoy speaking of faith in the secular academy as well as reminding those preparing for ministry in the Church that our primary purpose is to love and serve the world beyond the church's doors. I love helping people to grow in faith and to find their own voices, and I also love encouraging them to use their minds. I see no contradiction between these impulses, believing as I do that faith, reason and creativity work together.