December “Sadness and Silences”


An important writing mentor of mine was my friend and colleague the late Arnold Kenseth. Here are a reflection and a prayer of his for Advent. For more about this remarkable writer, poet and minister see my  post “Arnold Kenseth: A New England Poet of the Sacred.”

“We know inside ourselves our own darknesses; or, if we do not know them or understand them, we feel them brooding in us as sadness and silences, startling lusts, fears whispering, echoing chasms where we seem to stand on the brink of all man’s grief. And the winter that invariably comes surrounds us visibly with the cold and the dark and the death that invisibly we live with every day and in all seasons. And at this time of our despair the cry of Advent reverberates across our lives, “Watchman, tell us of the night, what are its signs of promise?” The answer that comes to us is not given by man for such an answer would only be darkness speaking to darkness. Rather there comes a transcendent Word, an eternal shout of joy, a promise signed in heaven itself. There comes the word of divine comfort. In our sophistication we may not hear it, we may turn from it, we may despise it. If so, our dark remains dark, and we continue to be of all men the most miserable and the most foolish.

Prayer: O Lord, the watchmen of ten thousand times ten thousand cities cry to the winter night the news of thy coming. Even so, we praise thee, Word of Light to our darkness, Word of Peace to our warfare, Word of Love to our fear. Let carols sing, let prayers adore, let the whole world rejoice and declare thee. Thou art fire and garland. Thou art the good shepherd and the true king. With angels and archangels we adore thee, world without end. Amen.”

(Arnold Kenseth. Sabbaths, Sacraments, and Seasons. Windhover Press, 1982. Photo by R.L. Floyd, 2009)

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