To look at the last great self-portraits of Rembrandt or to read Pascal or hear Bach’s B-minor Mass is to know beyond the need for further evidence that if God is anywhere, he is with them, as he is also with the man behind the meat counter, the woman who scrubs floors at Roosevelt Memorial, the high-school math teacher who explains fractions to the bewildered child. And the step from “God with them” to Emmanuel, “God with us,” may not be as great as it seems. What keeps the wild hope of Christmas alive year after year in a world notorious for dashing all hopes is the haunting dream that the child who was born that day may yet be born again even in us and our own snowbound, snowblind longing for him.
— Frederick Buechner from A Room Called Remember
Ah you don’t want to,
you don’t want
to go to the market with worn-out shoes
and come back with the same old dress.
My love, we are not fond
as the rich would like us to be,
of misery. We shall extract it like an evil tooth
that up to now has bitten the heart of man.
But I don’t want
you to fear it.
If through my fault it comes to your dwelling,
if poverty drives away
your golden shoes,
let it not drive away your laughter which is my life’s bread.
If you can’t pay the rent
go off to work with a proud step,
and remember, my love, that I am watching you
and together we are the greatest wealth
that was ever gathered upon the earth.
— Pablo Neruda from The Captain’s Verses
See also: 2017 Advent Daily Meditations