Charm with your stainlessness these winter nights,
Skies and be perfect!
Fly vivider in the fiery dark, you quiet meteors,
You moon, be slow to go down,
This is your fill!
The four white roads make off in silence
Toward the four parts of the starry universe.
Time falls like manna at the corners of the wintry earth.
We have become more humble than the rocks,
More wakefull than the patient hills.
Charm with your stainlessness these nights in Advent,
While minds, as meek as beasts,
Stay close at home in the sweet hay;
And intellects are quieter than the flocks that feed
Oh pour your darkness and your brightness over all our
Your skies: and travel like the gentle Virgin,
Towards the planets’ stately setting,
Oh white full moon as quiet as Bethlehem. -Thomas Merton
On the 10th of December the church remembers the monastic Kentucky mystic Thomas Merton, whose writings continue to tantalize and inspire people as they draw readers into a different view of God that is expansive, ethereal, and effervescent.
In this piece of poetry Merton speaks honestly about winter: how everything slows down (“time falls like manna at the corners of the wintry earth”), how the night sky seems brighter (“fly vivider in the fiery dark, you quiet meteors”), and how the quiet causes us to be more aware (“more wakeful than the patient hills”).
In a season that can feel very long and very devoid of brightness, Merton invites us to consider the blessings of these wintry days, reminding us that everything sings God’s praises as it does what it is designed to do.
- What are the joys of winter for you? What do you love about this season?
- How can you live into this season of shorter days and colder temperatures with eagerness and expectation?
Let us pray. God of all time, in every season, today we give you thanks for Thomas Merton and for the gift of winter. May we see all things, including you, in new ways as we wait for Christ’s coming again this year. Your surprises are in hibernation, and today we trust they’ll come forth in due time. Amen.
All italicized quotes, poems, and prayers come from An Advent Sourcebook (Liturgy Training Publications/Chicago, IL, 1986).