Vin Santo

that New Year’s Eve
we stood on the hill 
above the vineyard
watching fireworks

rise above the lake 
from Pieve to Anghiari
later in the stillness 
of the barn the cat chasing

our shadows on the wall
a moment so full
if today we could talk 
we’d agree we had no better

earlier at the bar in Caprese 
Michelangelo we couldn’t decide 
what to drink to the new year
vin santo an old man said

holding up his glass
certo vin santo

In Tenebris – Ford Madox Ford

All within is warm,
Here without it’s very cold,
Now the year is grown so old
And the dead leaves swarm.

In your heart is light,
Here without it’s very dark,
When shall I hear the lark?
When see aright?

Oh, for a moment’s space!
Draw the clinging curtains wide
Whilst I wait and yearn outside
Let the light fall on my face.

Always Advent – Richard Rohr

When we say “Come, Lord Jesus” on this Christmas Day, we are preferring his Lordship to any other loyalty system or any other final frame of reference. If Jesus is Lord, than Caesar is not! If Jesus is Lord, then the economy and stock market are not! If Jesus is Lord, then my house and possessions, family and job are not! If Jesus is Lord, than I am not! That multileveled implication was obvious to first-century members of the Roman Empire because the phrase “Caesar is Lord” was the empire’s loyalty test and political bumper sticker. They, and others, knew they had changed “parties” when they welcomed Jesus as Lord instead of the Roman emperor as their savior.

What we are all searching for is Someone to surrender to, something we can prefer to life itself. Well here is the wonderful surprise: God is the only one we can surrender to without losing ourselves. The irony is that we find ourselves, and now in a whole new field of meaning. This happens on a lesser level in every great love in our lifetime, but it is always a leap of faith ahead of time. We are never sure it will be true beforehand. It is surely counter-intuitive, but it is the promise that came into the world on this Christmas Day, “full of grace and of truth.” Jesus is the gift totally given, free for the taking, once and for all, to everybody and all of creation. This Cosmic Risen Christ really is free wireless, and all we have to do is connect.

Henceforth humanity has the right to know that it is good to be human, good to live on this earth, good to have a body, because God in Jesus chose and said “yes” to our humanity. Or as we Franciscans love to say, “Incarnation is already Redemption.” The problem is solved. Now go and utterly enjoy all remaining days. Not only is it “Always Advent,” but every day can now be Christmas because the one we thought we were just waiting for has come once and for all.

May you know real joy on this “Feast of Feasts.”

Friar Thomas of Celano, in his Second Life of St. Francis, wrote: “Francis used to observe with inexpressible eagerness, and above all other solemnities, the birth of the Child Jesus, calling it the feast of feasts on which God, having become a little baby, hung upon human breasts. He would avidly kiss pictures of those infant limbs, and his compassion for the child overflowed his heart, making him stammer sweet words, even like a child. The name Baby Jesus was for him honeycomb-sweet in the mouth.”