I am reading the chapter about the Gospel of Luke in Heart and Mind by Alexander Shaia this Advent. It begins with this poem by David Whyte. I have read it again and again and can feel it becoming something I start with each day this season.
Coleman’s Bed, by David Whyte
Make a nesting now, a place to which
the birds can come, think of Kevin’s
prayerful palm holding the blackbird’s egg
and be the one, looking out from this place
who warms interior forms into light.
Feel the way the cliff at your back
gives shelter to your outward view
and then bring in from those horizons
all discordant elements that seek a home.
Be taught now, among the trees and rocks,
how the discarded is woven into shelter,
learn the way things hidden and unspoken
slowly proclaim their voice in the world.
Find that far inward symmetry
to all outward appearances, apprentice
yourself to yourself, begin to welcome back
all you sent away, be a new annunciation,
make yourself a door through which
to be hospitable, even to the stranger in you.
See with every turning day,
how each season makes a child
of you again, wants you to become
a seeker after rainfall and birdsong,
watch now, how it weathers you
to a testing in the tried and true,
admonishes you with each falling leaf,
to be courageous, to be something
that has come through, to be the last thing
you want to see before you leave the world.
Above all, be alone with it all,
a hiving off, a corner of silence
amidst the noise, refuse to talk,
even to yourself, and stay in this place
until the current of the story
is strong enough to float you out.
Ghost then, to where others
in this place have come before,
under the hazel, by the ruined chapel,
below the cave where Coleman slept,
become the source that makes
the river flow, and then the sea
beyond. Live in this place
as you were meant to and then,
surprised by your abilities,
become the ancestor of it all,
the quiet, robust and blessed Saint
that your future happiness
will always remember.
David’s poem leaves me with some questions that I am sitting with this Advent.
What have I discarded or let go of that now serve as a nest for new growth and birth?
How can I “apprentice yourself to yourself, begin to welcome back all you sent away, be a new annunciation, make yourself a door through which to be hospitable, even to the stranger in you.”
Who is the stranger in me? How can I be hospitable to myself, especially those parts I prefer to ignore, that are used up, or I have sent away?
Am I brave enough to stay in this nesting place, this place of growth in darkness?
How does thinking of myself as a “robust and blessed Saint” that my future self will remember with thankfulness give me the courage and bravery for these days?
May we all be brave enough to sit in the darkness of ourself, knowing that from that darkness comes new life.