Clinging like sheep to the earth for protection,
We have not ventured far in any direction:
Wean, Child, our aging flesh away,
From it’s childish way.
--WH Auden, from For the Time Being
I’ve been reading WH Auden’s For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio. Auden wrote this wonderful long poem after he had moved to the United States from his native England and began to have a resurgence of faith. He even joined the Episcopal Church. The above quote comes from the section in the oratorio called “The Vision of the Shepherds.” These clear and stirring words speak directly to our tendency to often play our lives very close to the vest. “We have not ventured far in any direction.”
But the wisemen’s movement toward the manger, getting ever closer to the reality of God ‘s coming among us, beckons us to move out from our places of relative safety and draw ever closer to the reality of God ‘s love. Christ has come, and that reality is a blessing that we simply must move closer to if we are to appreciate it’s joy and power. Epiphany is upon us. Come let us adore the Child in the manger, the man at the river Jordan, the holy one who lived and died for our freedom.