Dawn on our Darkness: The Gates are Drawn Apart

What seemed to be the end proved to be the beginning…
Suddenly a wall becomes a gate.
~Henri Nouwen from  A Letter of Consolation

I heard in Addison’s Walk a bird sing clear:
This year the summer will come true. This year. This year.

Winds will not strip the blossom from the apple trees
This year, nor want of rain destroy the peas.

This year time’s nature will no more defeat you,
Nor all the promised moments in their passing cheat you.

This time they will not lead you round and back
To Autumn, one year older, by the well-worn track.

This year, this year, as all these flowers foretell,
We shall escape the circle and undo the spell.

Often deceived, yet open once again your heart,
Quick, quick, quick, quick!—the gates are drawn apart.

~C.S. Lewis “What the Bird Said Early in the Year”

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning
~T.S. Eliot from “Little Gidding” The Four Quartets

I expect gates in my neighborhood to be closed – in the farming business, a gate left open is an invitation to disaster. Likewise, barn doors are often locked, to keep things safe inside and leave the unwanted out.

So it is true of the heart, where my most cherished treasures are stored and protected – a lockbox of faith and love. But the Lord knocks at the locked doors and closed gates of our hearts, expecting a response. He came to earth to enter into our lives, not be kept outside waiting. From the very beginning of His life, we refused Him entry to share our comfortable inn, relegating Him to a stone trough, and at the end, a stone tomb.

A gate never opened becomes a wall. A heart that does not bleed joy and tears and sorrow becomes nothing but stone.

He has come to turn the key and we are unlocked forever.

This year’s Advent theme “Dawn on our Darkness” is taken from this 19th century Christmas hymn.

Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
dawn on our darkness and lend us your aid.
Star of the east, the horizon adorning,
guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.
~Reginald Heber -from “Brightest and Best”

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