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Where is that place apart
you summon us to? Noisily
we seek it and have no time
to stay. Stars are distant;
is it more distant still,
out in the dark in the shadow
of thought itself? No wonder
it recedes as we calculate
its proximity in light years.
Maybe we were mistaken
at the beginning or took later
a wrong turning. In curved space
one can travel for ever and not recognise
one’s arrivals. I feel rather
you are at our shoulder, whispering
of the still pool we could sit down
by; of the tree of quietness
that is at hand; cautioning us
to prepare not for the breathless journeys
into confusion, but for the stepping
aside through the invisible
veil that is about us into a state
not place of innocence and delight.

We say “come, Lord Jesus, come!” We are like the Magi, on their journey to Bethlehem – or are we? When they got there there found the baby in the manger. Do we even know the destination of our journey? Or, is it, as Thomas suggests here as he has before, that God is in the journey itself? Are we so busy in the journeying, in the search that we do not remember to stop and, in the stillness, hear that still, small voice? Are we so in search of that Damascene moment that we fail to give ourselves time for those small epiphanies on moor, by the sea or in prayer?

One of the themes we should be familiar with by now is finding God where we might least expect him. If we have a fixed idea of who he is or how he should be found, there is a danger we may miss him. It is back to it not being in our control. How hard we find it to be still – really still – and to be quiet – really quiet. What is it we fear? That in the silence there will be nothing? How will we know if we do not try? How shall we be good at it if we do not practice? We are perhaps so busy seeking that we do not make time for seeing?

God is omnipresent. But what does that mean, and how can we, the created, grasp the creator – the finite cannot comprehend the Infinite, we see, as St Paul reminds us, “as through a glass darkly”. But seeing is not the only sense we have. How often does Isaiah write about those who have eyes but do not seem ears but do not hear? A casual reading tells us that he is criticising the Babylonians and others who make idols of wood and gold and call them gods and, in worshipping them, miss the real God. But we might reflect on the idols we make which do that for us. It is possible to be too busy journeying that we miss that the whole point is in what we learn on the journey. Back to my beloved Cavafy’s insight:

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.

Without her you wouldn’t have set out.

She has nothing left to give you now.

So, on Gaudete Sunday and at the start of our third week of travelling together this Advent, let us pause and take in the journey – and what, together, we are learning from it. God Bless!

There is an #adventbookclub using “Frequencies of God” by Carys Walsh and you can support the publisher by buying it here: https://canterburypress.hymnsam.co.uk/books/9781786220882/frequencies-of-god. We’ll be running this club on Twitter and Facebook, and you are welcome to join in with thoughts and comments. Other folk doing this are https://grahart.wordpress.com/ and https://becausegodislove.wordpress.com/ so please pop over and read their thoughts too!