To Be Like a Child

Thursday, December 21, 2006

As the Deer

On the first Sunday of Advent, the choir at Church sang a song from my childhood that I really love (corny last two stanzas notwithstanding). It's by Martin Nystrom, based on the first lines of Psalm 42:

As The Deer

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after Thee.
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship Thee.

You alone are my strength, my shield,
To You alone may my spirit yield.
You alone are my heart's desire,
And I long to worship Thee.

You're my friend and you are my brother
Even though You are a King.
I love You more than any other,
So much more than anything.

I want You more than gold or silver
Only You can satisfy.
You alone are the real joy giver
And the apple of my eye.

The song has been playing in mind since I heard it three weeks ago, and after prayer session on Tuesday night with my prayer-mates, I now know why.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Advent, a season of penitence.

Some rambling, random thoughts ....


When I was in college, our Advent prayer sessions in CLC would, of course, touch on the theme of waiting.

But only in the past few years have I come to a special appreciation of Advent as a penitential season. These past few days, I've joked about it to my husband ("Maybe the early Church leaders thought Advent should be a penitential season so people would fast, because they know that people tend to overeat on Christmas day!"), to my friends ("Okay lang kung nagchi-Christmas blues ka; it's a penitential season!") and to my students.

But underlying my jokes I feel a growing sensitivity to this sacred time of penitence, this sacred time of preparation.

This past Lent I was so busy with wedding preparations that I didn't feel myself entering properly into the penitential season.

This Advent, however, I feel that each day, the Lord is drawing me more and more into the rhythm of this season, this rhythm of inward-looking, of reflection and recollection, of healing my relationship with Him ....


I was observing in my other blog that some of my friends have been complaining that they do not yet feel "the Christmas spirit," or that the end-of-the-year Christmas blues have struck again.

But maybe this is all meant to tell us something about the true meaning of Christmas, and the character of Christ's coming.

Advent, I was taught at catechism class when I was very young, is a time to prepare our hearts to receive the Lord.

The assumption there is that our hearts are often not disposed properly to receive the Lord.

And perhaps, if we do not feel the Christmas spirit, or if we are undergoing Christmas blues, it is a sign for us to look into our heart and see how we can dispose it better to welcome the Lord.

Going through my old blog entries, I found a prayer for all my friends going through their pre-Christmas blues ....

Advent Prayer
by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Lord Jesus,

Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, "Come Lord Jesus!"



How is the penitential season of Advent different from the penitential season of Lent? I'm not sure what the theologically correct answer is to that, but this is how I feel about it at this stage in my life ....

Lent for me is symbolic of hope amid despair, suffering, death ... the hope of Christ's triumph over evil and sin.

Advent for me is symbolic of hope amid the emptiness that comes in the secular mad rush of things to do, amid the emptiness of a life without God ... the hope of Christ's power to radiate within our mundane, ordinary lives and light it up with the splendor of His love.

At Easter, Christ triumphed over sin.

At Christmas, Christ entered into the ordinary and transfigured it, making it extraordinary.


These past few days, I've been humming "I Love the Lord" to myself.

I love the Lord, He is filled with compassion.
He turned to me on the day that I called.
From the snares of the dark, O, Lord, save my life,
be my strength.

Gracious is the Lord, and just.
Our God is mercy, rest to the weary.
Return my soul to the Lord our God who bids tears away.
I love the Lord. (REFRAIN)

How can I repay the Lord for all the goodness He has shown me?
I will raise the cup of salvation and call on His name.
I love the Lord. (REFRAIN)

I shall live my vows to You before Your people,
I am Your servant.
I will offer You my sacrifice of praise and of pray'r.
I love the Lord. (REFRAIN)

The Windhover

When I was young and fancied myself a lit major, I loved much of Father Hopkins' poetry, but one poem na di ko ma-get was the Windhover.

I read it again today and now I think I get it.


The Windhover

To Christ our Lord

I CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

- Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

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