Every year when the season of Advent approaches, I make a determined effort to enter it with the intent of holding on, like Jacob wrestling with the protean spirit: I will not let thee go, except thou bless me! Yes, of course: the day breaketh, dawn will come, the season will end, we will return to quotidian tasks and a prosaic state of mind. Don’t think about that now. Be here! among the light and music.
I attended a Christmas concert last week, and when it was over my friend and I had the same thought: we could be doing this kind of thing all year, the music, the candles, everyone singing! but we don’t. Only at Christmas.
Here are some familiar lines from a poem by George Herbert, 17th Century, which are not about Christmas ( the festival may even have been banned in England by the time he wrote this) but famously, about prayer. The poem is referred to as Prayer (I).
Still, to me these particular lines mean Christmas, they describe the heightened consciousness, enchantment, and festive anticipation of the season. I don’t know why. But I hope you will enjoy them:
“Heaven in ordinary, Man well-dressed,/ The Milky Way, the Bird of Paradise,/Church bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood, / The land of Spices, something understood.”