At the Gate of Advent

Mary is waiting,
   every new ache
      ironically raising a stir of hope.
Joseph is waiting,
   wide awake
      to keep those crazy dreams at bay.
The angels are waiting
   and warming up their voices for the cantata,
   the altos humming a perfect fifth
      below the melody.
The shepherds
   don’t yet know they are waiting,
      but they are, eyes darting unconsciously skyward.
The sheep and goats are waiting,
   grazing while they wait,
      in the eternal wisdom of sheep and goats.
The goats are waiting
   to see if they get written out of the tale
   at the end.
The sheepdogs are waiting
   baring their teeth at malevolent shadows
   that blink with yellowy eyes
   and slink away.

The manger
   -temporarily still just a manger,
   corncrib, not crib-
      is empty but ready for the spotlight.
Zechariah and Elizabeth
   are up all night with a three-month-old
   nicknamed “Jumping Jack,”
      smelling of curdled milk and damp nappies,
      but they are waiting too.
The Magi are scrutinizing the star-charts,
   arguing, debating, pointing furiously,
      and redoing the math to no avail,
      subconsciously preparing a shopping list
         because the signs have spoken.
The Star is waiting, flaring on cue,
   testifying to portents and prophecies
      saying all that is needed
      simply by being itself.
God rubs her hands together in anticipation,
   like all parents
   when they know they have found
   the perfect gift.

So we wait too,
   on this longest night.
And while we wait, let us
   stand in awe at the vault of stars,
      who serve as witness and stage for wonders;
   breathe in stillness and alertness in this present moment
   offer up simple gratitude for the gift of hope
   sing along with celestial concerts
   practice peace for the Prince of Peace
in gratitude that God came to dwell
   among us
   as one of us
making the Creator human
and the created holy
infusing divine love into finite flesh
that we might dance with God
and truly love one another.

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