‘Tis the season of miracles, at least that is what the gospels tell us. As Advent moves on, picking up speed as Christmas fast approaches, we begin to say to ourselves “I will never be ready” Seriously, how can anyone ever be ready for God’s inbreaking presence. Let us not fool ourselves, let us receive the miracle of God whenever, however, it occurs. Might the surprise, surprise us! The following poem by Sylvia Plath might well surprise us. It requires careful reading, so take your time, find a quiet moment and allow this poem to surprise you, as you with others wait for the angel, for that rare, random descent. The words of the angel are often repeated throughout scripture and we would do well to hear them ourselves “Fear not”.
Black Rook in Rainy Weather by Sylvia Plath
On the stiff twig up there
Hunches a wet black rook
Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain.
I do not expect a miracle
Or an accident
To set the sight on fire
In my eye, I seek
No more in the desultory weather some design,
But let spotted leaves fall as they fall,
Without ceremony, or portent.
Although, I admit, I desire,
Occasionally, some backtalk
From the mute sky, I can’t honestly complain:
A certain minor light may still
Out of the kitchen table or chair
As if a celestial burning took
Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then —
Thus hallowing an interval
By bestowing largesse, honor,
One might say love. At any rate, I now walk
Wary (for it could happen
Even in this dull, ruinous landscape); skeptical,
Yet politic; ignorant
Of whatever angel may choose to flare
Suddenly at my elbow. I only know that a rook
Ordering its black feathers can so shine
As to seize my senses, haul
My eyelids up, and grant
A brief respite from fear
Of total neutrality. With luck,
Trekking stubborn through this season
Of fatigue, I shall
Patch together a content
Of sorts. Miracles occur,
If you care to call those spasmodic
Tricks of radiance miracles. The wait’s begun again,
The long wait for the angel.
For that rare, random descent.
the gospels tell of angels.
Their appearance is always unexpected,
their words almost always the same-
let me hear these words afresh
because all around me the world seems
to be fearful.
With so little apparent good news to go around
might this Advent season
bring what we most need to hear.
Speak Lord through angels
as we wait for that
rare, random, descent. Amen.