Maranatha... Alleluia

On Saturday afternoon I cut some herbs and greenery from the garden, and arranged them around five candles. Inky purple, rosy pink and white; bright green, yellowy variegations, subtle fragrance. A comforting, uncomplicated ritual, mirroring similar arrangements taking place in churches and chapels throughout the world. And then, as evening set in, in majestic basilicas and in humble dwellings, in our dark northern winter and in the vibrant southern summer, Advent - this blessed time of expectant waiting and preparation - was universally ushered in with the simplicity of the strike of a match, and a softly glowing flame. 

And then at Mass on Sunday we sang Bernadette Farrell's Litany of the Word. This hymn was part of my first vows ceremony, in Advent 1996. Its plaintive, evocative tune sings of longing, yearning desire, echoed in one of its refrains - Maranatha... Come, O Lord. But its other refrain is Alleluia, a word of rejoicing; and there is no dissonance between the two; joy and desire are intermingled. I especially love the final verse: You we long for… You we thirst for… Here among us… Living in us. Here, in just a few words we have the paradox of Advent: the already and the not yet; the One we long for, even as we know he is already here, among and within us. 

The already, the not yet... and the more of God I continue to long for... That is at the heart of my desiring, not only at Advent but all year round. Alleluia... Maranatha...