Third Sunday of Advent

At my church we sing the Taize song, “Within Our Darkest Night“:

Within our darkest night
You kindle the fire that never dies away
That never dies away

That song has been running through my head as I prepare for the third week and poem of Advent. The early Christians, I learned, believed Jesus was born at the darkest time of night (midnight) and on the darkest night of the year (the winter solstice) to shine light on our (metaphorical) dark places.

My God, how beautiful.

This past term I’ve been reflecting on the incarnation, particularly in how God chose to save the world by entering into darkness. Black liberation and womanist theologies talk of Christ as the co-sufferer. When God became man, God wasn’t part of the privileged or elite; Christ lived in such a way that condemned him to a cross, to suffer and die.

The poem I picked for this week, then, is a tough one, a dark one. It’s a poem of death and the relentless reminder of death. It’s a poem about grief and the question of how do we grieve for ourselves and for others. But there’s still hope, somehow–though it’s frail, though it’s pathetic and surprising, it’s intact.

The Miscarriage

by Amit Majmudar

Some species can crack pavement with their shoots
to get their share of sun some species lay
a purple froth of eggs and leave it there
to sprinkle tidepools with tadpole confetti
some species though you stomp them in the carpet
have already stashed away the families
that will inherit every floor at midnight
But others don’t go forth and multiply
as boldly male and female peeling the bamboo
their keepers watching in despair or those
endangered species numbered individually
and mapped from perch to oblivious perch

For weeks the world it seemed was plagued
with babies forests dwindling into cradles
rows of women hissing for an obstetrician
babies no one could feed babies received
by accident like misdirected mail
from God so many babies people hired
women to hold them babies babies everywhere
but not a one to name When we got home
the local news showed us a mother with
quintuplets she was suckling them in shifts
a mountain of sheets universally admired
a goddess of fertility her smile
could persuade the skies to rain Her litter
slept ointment-eyed in pink wool caps while Dad
ran his hand through his hair thinking maybe
of money as he stood surveying his
crowded living room his wealth of heartbeats

Pizza and pop that night and there unasked inside
the bottlecap was Sorry—Try Again
you set it down and did not speak of it
the moon flanked by her brood of stars that night
a chaste distracted kiss goodnight that night
your body quiet having spilled its secret
your palms flat on your belly holding holding

Forgive me if I had no words that night
but I was wondering in the silence still
begetting silence whether to console you
if I consoled you it would make the loss
your loss and so we laid beside ourselves
a while because I had no words until
our bodies folded shut our bodies closed
around hope like a book preserving petals
a book we did not open till the morning when
we found hope dry and brittle but intact

 

Within our darkest night
You kindle the fire that never dies away
That never dies away

About Lauren Sawyer

I am a Ph.D. student studying social ethics in New Jersey. I love coffee, rainy days, and John Updike. Learn more about me at laurendeidra.com.