Paulo Coehlo is a contemporary lyricist and novelist. He is best known for his novel The Alchemist released in 2014. That novel is a fable centered in following one’s dream.
At this holy time of year we are following the star – following the dream – that will lead us to the manger in Bethlehem. There we meet Love Incarnate – Love Embodied. There we are enfolded in that love – not because of anything we have done. We are loved because we are loved. That is the nature of the Good News.
George Herbert (1593-1632) penned the poem “Love”. The words speak to us on our Advent journey:
LOVE bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd anything.
'A guest,' I answer'd, 'worthy to be here:'
Love said, 'You shall be he.'
'I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on Thee.'
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
'Who made the eyes but I?'
'Truth, Lord; but I have marr'd them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.'
'And know you not,' says Love, 'Who bore the blame?
'My dear, then I will serve.'
'You must sit down,' says Love, 'and taste my meat.
So I did sit and eat.
We stand at the stable door, tired and weary and looking for the wonder of the promise that drew us to this place and time. Yet dare we cross the threshold? We know we are unworthy. We are hesitant to enter such a sacred place. Who are we to experience this wondrous thing? Maybe we should wait a day or two. Maybe we should bring something to give to the baby and the family. Maybe we should go to the Temple to pray about this whole thing. We come up with all kinds of excuses to avoid making that commitment to walk into the presence of Love.
Yet LOVE bids us welcome. LOVE brings us across the threshold. LOVE has no need for our excuses because we are already held in HOLY LOVE.
Simone Weil writes of the power of this particular poem in her life:
I used to think I was reciting it as a beautiful poem, but without my becoming aware of it, reciting it had the nature of a prayer. During one of those recitations, … Christ himself came down and took possession of me. ….
In this sudden possession of me by Christ, neither my senses nor my imagination played any role; I only felt in the midst of my suffering the presence of a love – like that which one can read in the smile of a beloved face.
This wondrous season unfolds before us, drawing us more closely to the Christ Child. The story is more than a nice holiday tale. It is a witness through the ages of Christ coming to us and taking possession of us. We are welcomed by LOVE. Our sufferings, our questions, our busy lives are transformed by this presence of love. We are no longer what we were. We are ourselves born again into God’s everlasting Love.
Grace and Peace