Posted by: Peadar Ban | December 21, 2012

This Is The Night

(Here is a poem, a meditation on the Season of Advent, that first appeared at The Christian Book Corner’s FB site)

This Is The Night

Every moment is Advent;
a time to meet Christ whenever we
are open to Him.

From the Proslogion of St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan
“Insignificant man, escape from your everyday business for a short while,
hide a moment from your restless thoughts.  Break off from your cares
and troubles and be less concerned about your tasks and labors.  Make a
little time for God and rest in Him.”

P1050314
Forward

I was asleep, or think I was,
Nestled deep in covers piled on my bed
Comforted by pillows all around my head
Dreaming that I did and saw
Things I had not seen or done before.
Listen, Children, where I have been.
I will tell you what I have seen.

I

First, an angel flying high
And angel wings against blue sky
Their shadows splashing o’er the world
Like great clouds that lightening hurled
Upon shrinking earth below –
‘Mid blasts of light and thunder’s blow

He came to rest in front of me
Strong and tall as tallest tree
Completely still, but beckoning.
Full of fear I was, but he, not grim,
Smiled to see me shuddering.

“Why do you tremble so?”  He asked.
At once, I was there (or he was near) —
His bell deep voice within my head
I felt, not heard, all fear relaxed,
His rumbling words, though unheard, clad
In love and ancient joy, all glad
My heart received his presence.
Happiness, I knew, was his essence.

II

“Why,” said I, when my voice returned,
“Have you come to me? Could I have earned
The reward of such a one as you
Through some good I’ve done
For company?” He smiled again.

The very air ‘round us sparkling grew,
Gay already, now intensely bright
As a diamond in its heart truly might
Surround with pellucid radiance
All within reach of its brilliant presence.

Gracefully, through shimmering air
He reached for me.  We touched.  Or
Should it be were together.
He with me and I with him.  Whether
We had become one I never knew
But certainly we were no longer two.

We moved into another space, his
Voice so beautiful explaining, “This is
not your end.  I know you may think it so,
But we have another place to go.”
Laughing as he told me this we moved
Above, across, I couldn’t tell, the world
Which, though all the same, still seemed
To be unreal, more like a world I dreamed.

Yet now I recall it, in no more real
A world had I ever before or since been.
No thing created slowed our way,
Neither stone nor sea, time nor length of day
But all we passed, over or through as if
They were shadows of the world.  Massive mountains
Mere thoughts seemed.  Distance was no matter
Nor ocean’s heaving depths.  World’s could shatter,
Stars around us form, still we would go on
I thought amazed, and they did!  None of that was hid.
We moved across worlds, from and through time slid.

“Is what I am seeing the end of all?”
“No,” his warm voice was blunt.  ” I call
Some to see what has been, what will be.
But only he knows who all always sees
With power, grace and ease.
I move through all that was and is
But cannot change what He has made to be
Or what His love contains, creates and sees.
Past and present mine in which to move
All space, time are His in which to love.

III

“Here!” he exclaimed.  We stopped
Coming to rest on a mountain top
High above a rolling plain which spread
Westward to a sun jeweled horizon.
A narrow stream ran north to south
Into a salt rimed basin at its mouth,
Rising in blue tranquility in hills
Green, arid gray, tan, fed by springs and rills
And inconstant rains.  “Look, there,” he pointed
In the middle distance.  Mist anointed
slopes and shallow valleys vision embroidered.

Somehow the scene before me magnified!
I drew in breath.  “Good Lord,” I cried.
“Where is this, what is this before my eyes?”
He stood as if in prayer.  Then, “We are,”
Came soft reply, “where Moses’ journey, far
And long through dryness, in triumph ended.
Here left he for glory, no more wandered,
And attends, now, Who comes, promised to appear.”

IV

We rose above the mist into the light
Of dawn’s new rays, slight warmth, so high
I could see night’s velvet edged retreat west
Slipping beyond the desert Moses crossed
Ages gone.  Away below, still in shadow, lost
To all but slender first fingers of day
caressing, two trav’ling this rugged way
I saw, and the docile beast who bore
One on its back.  They, slow, road sore,
Walking as they had for many days
To David’s little town of Bethlehem
Fulfilling what was commanded of them.

Soon as the sun had risen full over hills
Behind them, beams of pealing light, their thrills
dazzling, gilding, trumpeting in the heights
We heard and saw a great angelic sight;
Clouds of spirits crowning hills, crowding air,
Praising the Lamb within His Mother’s womb
Whose Divine Brilliance from e’en there stars outshone.
She carried Him unaware heaven’s hosts
Had joined them.  But no jewel clad coach
Carried greater Queen, her humility
Blazing radiant with sweet purity.

As they walked the sun paved road, white robed saints
Walked with them between the pastured hills
Raising Alleluias and Hosannas
To the One who is, Who was and Who will be.
Who is already here and who is yet to come,
The long promised crown of all the world’s hope.
We watched in silence, cloud high,
The holy host, the Couple, passing by
Toward Bethlehem nestled in its place
Home to be of a new made human race.

V

I looked ahead toward Man’s new beginning
The humble source of all he would be winning,
Never fully emptied, ocean’s wide, which eyes
Have not seen, ears not heard, nor mind conceived
The beauty and the riches Love’s prepared.

There I saw three rising.  Light ascend
Beyond any light I had seen yet.
Its intensity grew a thousand times
Each moment it rose higher in the sky
Until it seemed the shrinking sun had died
Of shame before this point of light cosmos wide.
Shining diamonds would be black lumps of coal
And lost, in that Eternal Light for all.

In the Rising Light deepening, growing
I began to see Three who appeared to me
Living creatures though neither one nor three.
I turned for answer from my guide knowing
He would tell who and what now rose above
The crown of earth, but he was bowed in love
And adoration before a Lion, Lamb and Dove.
I looked again.  Was pierced.  The lion’s glance
A bolt of light through my heart!.  Brilliant lance!
Cleansing pain!  Peace!  Joy beyond all joy!
I, lifted high, became no longer I
Who had been, but I who really was,
And brought closer, closer, changed yet same
Into the circle of the Three from whom came
All of peace, love and charity.  I one
In them, and I in them and They in me!

VI

The Lamb spoke, quietly.
“I am your Brother and your Lord,” he said to me.
“Of my Father’s love begotten before
The ages began to be.  The First Born!
God from God! Light from Light, not made or formed.
I am begotten of One substance.  True
God from true God.  Now I am sent to you
A Shepherd in search of the lost sheep,
A Shepherd who will lay down His life and rise
To carry to safety all who are Mine
All you must do is know and follow Me.”
So close He came I felt His breath.  My knees
Bent, and then He left.  The Lion and Dove
Remained.  He gold bodied, sable maned.  White
Beyond white the Dove, piercing sight,
Soft as mother’s love, sharp as sharpest blade
That cuts and heals with one un-yielding grace.

The Lion spoke, “You have received a gift here.
Go, now, and what is given to you share.
See!  The Holy Dwelling Place of God, she
With Victim Child, Heaven’s King, your coming waits.
She, the temple of the Word, contemplates
As Mother of the Lord, whom she sees
In rude manger bare, Her savior,
The world’s and yours.
Go!  See Him now, as He,
True God, wishes to be seen
And follow Him, the Lamb,
the Mighty Lord, the Newborn King!”
VII

He was gone.  The Dove had gone as well.
I turned and found the kneeling angel
Weeping quietly alone nearby where
Once hosts of angels filled the air.
What seemed only a few seconds had passed
But it felt, in every blood cell, bone I had
To have taken place vast eons ago.
We were alone on some barren hill
I thought I sensed saints and angels still
..But emptiness was really all I felt.

“I’ve never known such loss before,” I said
“And feel now is if I am simply… dead.
When, or will, this deadness ever end?”
He turned to me and smiled, “My dear friend,
Are you such a little child that you lose heart
And mourn when once from Love you part,
Or think you have?  Love has not gone
As if love ever could. Love lasts, lives on.
As does all that is truly Good.”

VIII

We moved away, we two once more free
Of time and space until we came again
To that quiet place where he and I had met.

It was the middle of the night, and I
Was half awake.  I thought I saw some guy
In the corner of the room and sat straight up
In my bed remembering.  “Does true love
Last?”  The words, a question, teased me
As I looked at shadows and thought, “Please be
True.”  I screwed my courage to the point and asked,
“Who are you?  Tell me your name?”  Someone laughed
And then a feather brushed my face I swear.
“I am God’s Love For You.  That is my name
And I am lasting, true.  I will remain.”

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