I began the semester by sharing John 1 with my students: “In the beginning . . . the Word.”
Here it is, the end of the semester now, and I’m returning there, with Eliot to assist:
“If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.”*
And it is Advent season, because “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” but we’re mostly too busy whirling with the unstilled world to stop and behold His glory. Besides, it’s too warm to feel like Advent — how are we supposed to summon our appropriate nativity awe when the weather has tricked the daffodil bulbs into sprouting a full two months before their time? There’s a laughable incongruity between the balmy air and the green garlands.
And isn’t that always the way of it? I argue with facts because I do or don’t feel, refuse to see the obvious, clamp my eyes shut and insist it is dark.
The facts of the calendar months stand no matter how the weather feels, just as the fact of the Word stands no matter how much whirling noise we make. The lights are on even if I close my eyes, and the King of the universe declares me beloved, even when I feel like the least and most lonely.
The glorious thing about the Word becoming flesh is that He became flesh for those who couldn’t feel, for those who were dead, that in Him we might have life. Open your eyes, behold that glory. In the beginning, and also in the end.
*From T. S. Eliot, “Ash Wednesday,” V