All Creation Waits: The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings
Author: Gayle Boss
Published: Oct 2016 | Paraclete Press
Length: 74 pages
As the long nights descend and the trees grow naked, Advent waits in the marrow of winter’s chill despite the twinkling lights. It is a season of stripping away, even, some might say, of death. It is out of this barrenness that Gayle Boss bore All Creation Waits. Behind the dull cloak of winter green things sprout and new life bulges, it is but the hush before a new beginning.
This hope, this patient waiting in the dark is what the natural world lives out. Turtles’ heart beats slow to near-stopping as they lay buried in the mud; they bide their time awaiting the warmth that promises to usher them forth again. The Black Bear closes herself in deep sleep, wasting away as her energy reserves deplete little by little, yet it is during this time that new life grows large inside of her.
Of course this is too the story of life. Life is hope in the making when it’s least apparent. A story of long nights for the soul when the dawn is but a remembrance. Christmas is a celebration that our Light has come, but let us not forget the four hundred years of silence. Let us not forget the call of the faithful to wait in hope. Because this is still our calling—not to succumb to the darkness, but to raise our candles to the God we see in a glass dimly even as we long for His face.
All Creation Waits fashions readings for each day of Advent’s four weeks, accounts of how wild creatures adapt to winter’s chill and the good that is working behind the scenes on their behalf. Honey Bee and Chickadee, Cottontail and Opossum gaze into our eyes out of full-page woodcut illustrations in deep blacks and brilliant whites. Poetic and soul-piercing, these vignettes stand against the popular flow of culture by acknowledging life’s seasons of death as beautiful in their place and healthy, not something to be suppressed or bypassed. It invites us to see our lives as part of this larger story that earth’s seasons capture in miniature.
Every reflection is charged with awe, tenderness, mystery, and unexpected joy. We usually come across these wild creatures in brief passing, but the details of their fragile but sensitively crafted lives are an inspiring testament to the Creator who sees when one sparrow falls to the ground and dies, and then promises to be protectively involved in the intimate details of our lives even more so. Each creature leaves its own imprint on our path of faith, and their stories can offer something new with every reading.
Review copy courtesy of Paraclete Press
For additional reflection I highly recommend Light Upon Light: A Literary Guide to Prayer for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany compiled by Sarah Arthur. These are poems, short stories, and biblical passages divided topically for this season. The selections hit you in the gut and won’t leave you alone, they press into a deeper understanding of the truths that so easily become cliché. They include entries from the great expanse of history and also modern times, so its a great opportunity to discover currently living poets that can stand on their own in the presence of the greats. If you want a guide for Advent that more directly hits on the religious themes of the season, this is my pick.