One thing I’m trying to do a little more of as I get older is to establish some set “reading patterns” for different parts of the year. Holidays are often geared that way, of course. Then you work in classics like The Lord of the Rings or something from Lewis, and you have a nice rhythm of significant literature to reflect with at key moments in the year.
On Monday, I mentioned Fleming Rutledge’s Advent as a source of guidance for the weeks prior to Christmas. Over the last few weeks, I’ve also been doing a slow read of W. H. Auden’s Christmas oratorio, For the Time Being. The book is edited by Alan Jacobs, whose The Year of Our Lord 1943 included Auden as a key figure. The poem is a good stretch for me. I like some of the rhythms that Auden establishes with repeated words and phrases. While I still lack to sections being done, “The Temptation of Joseph,” “The Summons,” and “At the Manger” have been particularly meaningful to me. From the end of “At the Manger”:
O Living Love replacing phantasy,
O Joy of life revealed in Love’s creation;
Our Mood of longing turns to indication:
Space is Whom our loves are needed by,
Time is our choice of How to love and Why.
With Advent’s end, I’m also finally turning my attention to Chesterton’s The Spirit of Christmas, a collection of poems, stories, and essays that I ordered in November 2017 but that didn’t arrive until a good bit into 2018 (ah, ordering used books and getting them shipped to Hawaii!). The book goes in a kind of chronological order, with some early works that predate Chesterton’s strong turn towards Catholicism. Here’s the first poem in the collection, which I quite like:
Good news: but if you ask me what it is, I know not;
It is a track of feet in the snow,
It is a lantern showing a path,
It is a door set open.