I was at All Saints church several times before Br Herbert’s funeral, and while I was there I said hello to one of my favourite dogs. He has been chewing at his mistress’ gown for centuries—it must be good material, he hasn’t made any impression on it so far. I mean, of course, the little stone dog on the Mordaunts’ tomb.
I like dogs, and they usually like me—a few weeks ago one didn’t, but that is another story. In the 1960’s a misshapen stray bitch made herself at home at my grandma’s house, and she welcomed her. She was somewhat surprised one morning to come to the kitchen and find her dog caring for a litter of puppies—that explanation of the dog’s shape hadn’t occurred to her. I got a dog from the litter, and I called him Rex.
How attentive dogs are, total concentration! We’ve all smiled at dogs waiting for their ball to be thrown, for their food to be ready, at the possibility of a treat at any moment. Rex would be on the alert for the sound of Dad’s motor scooter as he came back from work. As soon as the dog jumped up, Mum put the kettle on—then we would hear the scooter as it drew nearer to the house.
Whilst you may be feeling that Christmas is arriving, or is already here, in the Christian liturgical year there is another season before Christmas, the season of Advent. In Advent we hear the call to be attentive, to be alert, to be prepared, to be ready.
Ready for what? Not for the Christmas bargain counter, but for the best deal that humanity has ever been given, the coming of Jesus, the baby in the crib—tradition has it that it was Saint Francis of Assisi who first had the idea of making a Christmas crib to depict the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. So, what’s so good about this deal? Well, the words of this Christmas hymn from Stanbrook Abbey are worth pondering over:–
Christ is here, Emmanuel, majesty so mild
Wisdom dwells with grace and truth, hidden in this child.
Here is God’s eternal Son, now to men made known,
By the Spirit’s love conceived, Mary’s flesh his own.
Born of God’s creative will, Christ is light from light,
Come to rescue Adam’s sons, waiting in the night.
Father, Son and Spirit blest: heav’n their glory sings,
While the earth with mighty voice praise and worship brings.
If the stone dog reminds you of how you feel at Christmas, then take heart, buried under all the junk, Christmas has a true meaning which transcends all the chaos and distress in our world today. Christ is here with us—all the year round!
We at Turvey Abbey wish you peace and blessings during Advent and at Christmas.