Silent Night

PC: Michael Smith

By Ken Sehested

To move into a seemingly bleak and
ominous future requires laying hold
of stories from our past:

Stories to remind us that buoyancy
emerges from unseen places,
at unknowing moments,
in unpredictable ways,
beyond all calculation
and prognostication.

People of faith instinctively know that
the future will not be bridled by apparent
history and its imperial champions.
As Mary Hood wrote,
“There’s no difference between
a bare tree and a dead tree in winter.”

Advent is the invitation to attentiveness
even when the sap isn’t running,
in the face of howling cold winds
and frightful dark nights.

For earth’s quarry, the night’s silence
bespeaks neither calm nor bright nor
restful sleep: fiends of the sunless
forest threaten with impunity from
shadow to shire with bloody breath.

Regardless of the season’s shivering news,
the frost’s falling weight,
the bare naked limbs,
or the predator’s stalk,
lean in to this night’s forlorn silence,
and train your ears for the portent
of angel-winged rustle.

Just as Creation began on a lightless
stage—and was sustained by the
Presence of shadowing wing—so,
too, the work of Recreation. A fecund
future awaits every steadfast pilgrim.
Ken Sehested is the editor-author
of, at the
intersection of spiritual formation
and prophetic action.

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