Aiming High

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Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’:
aim at Earth and you will get neither.
~ C.S. Lewis from The Joyful Christian

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The night sky was still dim and pale. 
There, peeping among the cloud wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains,
Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. 
The beauty of it smote his heart,
as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. 
For like a shaft, clear and cold,
the thought pierced him that in the end
the Shadow was only a small and passing thing:
there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.
~J.R.R. Tolikien, The Return of the King

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We long for a heaven that feels so elusive;
we who are so weary
and with so much need
seek out Light so seemingly
beyond our reach.

Yet by reaching beyond the here and now
we find heaven descended to us
in His incarnate earthliness.

No shadow cast in this worldly darkness,
and no iron nails
can quell the beauty
of His everlasting brilliance.

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Preparing the Heart: The Day-Star Waking

Venus & Mercury

I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.
~Revelation 22:16

When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
Matthew 2: 10

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
Luke 2: 8-9

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photo by Nate Gibson

There are a few moments between the blackness of a long dark night–something we have plenty of this time of year–and the renewal of the sunrise splash of color that spreads across the sky like spilled paint jars of pink and orange. Illuminated in those few moments is a transitional dawn-light or daybreak equivalent to the evening transition of twilight.

That is when the morning “stars” of Mercury and Venus become most visible. They don’t “twinkle” or appear effervescent like the night stars. They are solid radiant globes heralding the Sun to come.

The “star” guides and leads, breaking apart the darkest night.  It points to home, illuminates the birth of God come to earth as man, and presages the New Day to come. We are witnesses only if we arise early enough, peering through the clouds of everyday troubles, and prepare, ready for the dawning to come.

We must run, not walk, to meet the Redeemer.  This is what it was like for the shepherds and the magi.  This is what it is still like for us.  Our Day-Star awakens and we, our senses stolen by glory,  are overjoyed.

1. Whence is the goodly fragrance flowing,
Stealing our senses all away,
never the like did come a-blowing,
Shepherds, in flow’ry fields of May,
Whence is that goodly fragrance flowing,
Stealing our senses all away.

2. What is that light so brilliant,
breaking Here in the night across our eyes.
Never so bright, the day-star waking,
Started to climb the morning skies!
What is that light so brilliant, breaking,
Here in the night across our eyes.

3. Bethlehem! there in manger lying,
Find your Redeemer haste away,
Run ye with eager footsteps vieing!
Worship the Saviour born today.
Bethlehem! there in manger lying,
Find your Redeemer haste away.
~ Traditional French Carol

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Untangling the Threads

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Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth.

leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs–

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.
~Rainer Maria Rilke  “Sunset”

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