Adventia, day 23

Currently, I am reading through a favourite book of prayers, poetry, and contemplative practice entitled “Hearts on Fire: Praying with the Jesuits” (Loyola Press, Chicago / ed. by Michael Harter, SJ 1993/2004). It is a useful and rich resource as an accompaniment and guide to the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. It is also a perfect place to start for anyone interested in exploring the highly imaginative, participatory manner Ignatian spirituality teaches meditation by drawing one to inhabit biblical narratives.

For Adventia, day 23, I am sharing this gorgeous and inventive retelling of the Luke 2 story by Michael Moynahan, SJ simply titled, “In the Out House.”

It’s been a long,

dusty ride.

A steep and winding road

weaves serpentine

up the side of mountains.

They race the sun

with prospects of a new head to tax,

albeit a small one,

an impending certainty.

Sky and mother

are visual proof.

They reach the city

exhausted

but full of hope.

The husband,

mistaken on occasion

for her father,

fails to act his age

and dashes toward

a door about to close.

“Excuse me,

Could you give us a room for the night?

Some place to lay our heads?”

“Can’t you read, buster?

We’re all filled up.”

“I understand.

It’s my wife,

She’s about to have her first child.”

“That’s not my problem.”

“He’s not a problem.

He’s a fact

of life.”

“Open your ears, buddy,

because I’m only

gonna say this once.

We ain’t got no room.

So scram!”

“I understand”

is drowned

by the sound of a

slammed door.

Three times he will try

to find them lodging.

And with each failure

fell less capable

of caring for his wife

and that life within her

wanting out.

“It doesn’t look good.

All their rooms are taken.”

“Don’t worry.

God will provide.”

And all the time thinking:

“That’s what I’m afraid of.

They’re sorry

but they’re full.

It’s looking bleak.”

“God will give us

what we need.”

He shakes his head.

She believes this

and it comforts him little.

The third stop

looking like a

distant bleak relation

of the previous two.

Until the owner’s wife

spies the young girl wince

from movement she understands

all too well.

“You can have

the place out back.

It isn’t much

but it will be a roof

over your heads.

There’s fresh hay thrown.

The animals won’t bother you

and the child will be warm.

I’ll get some rags and water.

Go on now,

the mother

and baby

are waiting.”

Silently

the young girl’s face

proclaims:

“Magnificent!”

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