Autumn & Advent

 

In preparing the digital audio for part 4 of Gil Bailie’s Reflections on St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans I heard Gil recite the Rilke poem ‘Autumn’…

 

The leaves are falling, falling as from far,
as though above were withering farthest gardens;
they fall with a denying attitude.
And night by night, down into solitude,
the heavy earth falls far from every star.
We are all falling. This hand’s falling too —
all have this falling-sickness none withstands.
And yet there’s One whose gently-holding hands
this universal falling can’t fall through.

I will leave it to the reader to ponder how the poem relates to St. Paul’s understanding of the ‘new aeon’. For those intrigued by this, the downloadable MP3 will be available in mid-December in our web store…and as we are in the midst of our Fall Appeal, for our friends who support our efforts with gifts of $60/year or more – a complimentary MP3 of Part 4 of St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans will be sent via email around the same time. And for those contributing $300+/year – in addition to the MP3 we will mail a  complimentary CD of the audio materials. If you find our work of value please help us by supporting our efforts with your tax-deductible donations.

The Rilke poem at first reminded me of the song ‘Autumn Leaves’, a lament of lost love and longing, not really in ‘tune’ with Rilke’s more metaphysical direction. However, it was the last lines that brought another image to mind, one that had been in the news recently on account of the astounding price for which someone paid to possess it. The image, a painting by Leonardo da Vinci entitled ‘Salvator Mundi‘…

  Because Christ’s visage and gaze are what strikes the viewer most powerfully it is easy to miss, in the lower right corner, the universe is depicted, held in its creator’s hands…

And yet there’s One whose gently-holding hands
this universal falling can’t fall through.

As we enter into the Advent season this Sunday we will have opportunity to reflect on how it was that the creator of this universe became a helpless infant, born of a woman on a cold night in a cattle shed on the dusty fringes of the Roman empire two millennia ago and how this event has changed everything since.

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