Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Advent moments

Mary Oliver is a poet who has won national awards as well as my own admiration. At one point I had heard she had passed away, and was greatly saddened by the news, but now discover that such news was premature and "greatly exagerated," as Mark Twain would say. My relief is bested only by my gratitude.

In a recent collection, called Red Bird, Oliver writes the following

Of The Empire

We will be known as a culture that feared death
and adored power, that tried to vanquish insecurity
for the few and cared little for the penury of the
many. We will be known as a culture that taught
and rewarded the amassing of things, that spoke
little if at all about the quality of life for
people (other people), for dogs, for rivers. All
the world, in our eyes, they will say, was a
commodity. And they will say that this structure
was held together politically, which it was, and
they will say also that our politics was no more
than an apparatus to accommodate the feelings of
the heart, and that the heart, in those days,
was small, and hard, and full of meanness.

I think she has much of the state of our current situation well in hand. Similarly, Luke had the situation well in hand when he wrote in his Gospel

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

And it is into this Empire, then and now, that Christ comes at Christmas, with a message and a life beyond that which empire can handle.

Thanks be to God. Amen.