12/26/2008

Hemlock cones at dawn, Peace at dusk

Christmas has come again and as W. H. Auden says in For the Time Being, "Well, so that is that."

Christmas day was filled with small graces and wonders. Early on christmas I got a note from my friend Jim Friedrich with a picture, titled, "Hemlock cones at dawn." I mistakenly read it as "Hemlock comes at dawn," and thought perhaps that was a too downer a take on Christmas, or perhaps it was a portent of my mother's health and situation. It helped to later realize that it was "cones" not "comes." The photo was beautiful.

I wondered how old friends were doing on this strange feast day in the bleak midwinter, a day which in lower Delaware was actually sunny and warm.

Christmas eve was wonderful with good liturgies well done, with very fine and very different musical contributions and lots of people.

Christmas day was taken up being with friends and ended with a Christmas feast that moved from house to house in our little neighborhood. At tne end of the day we took the dogs on a walk on the beach. The air was now colder and perhaps winter was coming back to find us.


In Anglican-Land something like this also seems to happen: the hint, perhaps mistaken, that hemlock or death that comes with dawn in the deep midwinter of confusion, is followed by the possibility that it was, after all, only winter and the brown cones do not spell the end, but joy in life. In at the end of the day peace and the beach and dogs will prevail.

At least for one day a kind of cease-fire took place in Anglican-land.


Without forgetting that moment we return for the time being to look again at things in Anglican-Land where, as Auden says, "The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all."

"The happy morning is over,
The night of agony still to come; the time is noon:
When the Spirit must practice his scales of rejoicing
Without even a hostile audience, and the Soul endure
A silence that is neither for nor against her faith
That God's Will will be done, that in spite of her prayers,
God will cheat no one, not even the world, of its triumph."

But we will remember that all this - the cranky politics of ecclesial life - is only part of what we do while we wait out the time being. It is not everything, it is just something. Each day will have its dawning and dusk and its moments of thanksgiving and will be enough.


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