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We now begin our reflection upon the seven Great O Antiphons of Advent that begin on December 17. 

Note that each Antiphon opens with the exclamation of O! In its wake reverberate the explosion of discovery, the joy of wordlessness, and the silence of awe. Such may have been the experience of the composer of these ancient Antiphons while reflecting upon texts found in the book of Isaiah from which they were drawn.

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,

reaching from one end to the other,

mightily and sweetly ordering all things:

Come and teach us the way of prudence.

The first O Antiphon addresses the longed-for Messiah as Wisdom, influenced by Isaiah 11:2-3; 28-29.

Such Wisdom is identified with Spirit or the Hebrew word, ruah, meaning breath that first hovered over primeval waters in the book of Genesis. Within this breath emanates all creation, then, as well as now; its intent: harmony, communion, and bountiful joy. It’s always been that way. But sin/separateness has corroded our spiritual faculties and exiled us into one wilderness after another where nothing lives.

Bereft of ultimate meaning, we’ve everything to learn. The Antiphon concludes with a cry for help, in the imperative voice: Come teach … Only with willingness to accept ruah can begin the conversion of heart, critical to our evolving into a new creation. Ensuing dialogue with Him prompts the daily practice of Prudence or its modern equivalent, discernment.

That’s the rub: Discernment requires consciousness to use our Pause button when adhering to ruah’s direction, often contrary to our instinctual wants or demands, but we do it anyway. The desired change does occur.

Yearning, we all do it—whether for a new bicycle, for the phone to ring, for the healing of a break-up, or for restoration to health.  Woven into this feeling is a pseudo hope, even perhaps a flight into fantasy or theft. How well I remember stealing the faux-gray suede wallet at a downtown store, related in an earlier blog.

But there’s a spiritual kind of yearning that empties the heart of the inessential, that demands reigning wayward instincts, that activates patience and discernment, and that reorients the psyche toward experiences of critical new learning.

Such leaves stretchmarks upon the psyche, hankers for the unknown that alone will satisfy, and thirsts for the unquenchable.

Old Testament texts abound with examples. Whenever yearning’s grip is too much, the waiting, too ambivalent, I turn to the psalms or the Book of Job for help: The Ancients had experienced this pull, as well, and recorded their experience.

Then you will call, and I will answer you, you will yearn for me the work of your hands, says Job to Yahweh (14:15). Such references His Unconditional love for us, and for those preparing for the physical death of their bodies, an extreme consolation. 

In these Heart-whispering blogs, I’ve given way to the many faces of yearning, only to have waited out another lull with its subtle diminishment. And more purification and spiritual growth are still to come.

This is my time to write. Opened in front of me is the blank screen of my word processor. I sit in silence, anticipating an inner movement, something to wrap words around.

That’s it—It’s about gratitude as I begin my third year of palliative care from hospice. Despite numerous blogs yearning for my transition, I’m still very much here, still filling my lessening free time with meaningful learning, with prayer for others, so much so that I’ve outgrown who I used to be. Former interests pale in insignificance.

Helping me in these endeavors are my eye sight, my mental faculties, and ability to write. More and more, I treasure my solitude in which deep listening occurs and new topics surface. There is still much I do not know. That’s a lot to say about someone, soon to be eighty-six years old.

Inspiration seems to breathe around me with each morning’s waking dreams, with the joy of my morning helpers, and the ever-changing views outside my study windows—Even the thinning leaves of my viburnum revealing more of the empty sparrow’s nest, with last summer’s single birth.

Not having a family of my own, I often wondered what my end time would look like; its experience, one day at a time, has enveloped me within a trackless realm, has challenged my deepening trust in God’s care, and has heightened my sensitivity to life’s nuances of setbacks and joys. My place in the human family is secure. And all this change, occurring within a split second, or so it seems.

So I’m grateful to Creator God, still fashioning the woman I’m destined to become. And grateful to my multiple helpers, including my guardian angel.

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