Friday, December 9, 2016

On Waiting and Longing and Our Heart's Desire

This beautiful poem by Frances Chesterton, copied from the front pages of her biography by Nancy Carpentier Brown conveys so much of the Advent longing.

How far is it to Bethlehem? 
Not very far. 
Shall we find the stable room 
Lit by a star?

Can we see the little Child? 
Is He within? 
If we lift the wooden latch 
May we go in? 

May we stroke the creatures there 
Oxen or sheep? 
May we peep like them and see 
Jesus asleep?

If we touch His tiny hand 
Will He awake? 
Will He know we’ve come so far 
Just for His sake?

Great kings have precious gifts 
And we have naught 
Little smiles and little tears 
Are all we brought.

For all weary children 
Heaven must weep 
Here, on His bed of straw 
Sleep, children, sleep.

God in His mother’s arms 
Babes in the byre 
Sleep, as they sleep who find

Their heart’s desire.

Wearing my mother's jacket!
It is fitting that I came across this yesterday because last night, after Mass, a friend I'd not spoken to in a while asked whether I was expecting. I wish! I let her know it was a "food baby." However, I also let her know that we've been longing for more children for quite some time, but didn't think it was going to happen given that I'm nearly 52. I mean, I pray for menopause on a regular basis now :) Why yes, I can hold completely contradictory thoughts in my head all at once.    

I know so many of us who struggle with infertility, who are waiting, expectant of the miracle of life. But Frances, also suffering from infertility, in How Far is it to Bethlehem perfectly captures the deepest desires of our human heart.  

This Advent, I am baking and writing and praying/practicing a beautiful William Byrd Mass for four voices and thinking of my own heart's desire -- the Babe. 

I pray you will have a most blessed Advent!


Barbara Etlin said...

According to F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind and still retain the ability to function."

Mirka Breen said...

May all families and their babies have a room at the inn. May all who seek shelter find a lit door and an inn keeper who says, "I've been waiting for you."
Seems like a little thing to ask.

Deb Romano said...

Many years ago my high school choir used to sing a Christmas hymn based on that poem. I had no idea about its origin. Thank you!

Vijaya said...

Barb, that's a great quote! Thank you.

Mirka, that's so lovely. I know He awaits us.

Deborah, thanks for stopping by. Yes, it's a popular Christmas carol.