December 13th is St. Lucy’s day and the poem I have chosen in my Advent Anthology from Canterbury Press Waiting on the Word, is ‘Launde Abbey on St. Lucy’s Day’. I wrote this poem whilst leading an Advent retreat at Launde Abbey, a beautiful place hidden away in the soft folds of Leicestershire. This morning, on Saint Lucy’s day, whose brief brightness is dedicated to the martyr saint who found the true dayspring and whose name means light, I walked in the abbey grounds. As I watched the bright low winter sun rise dazzling through the bare bleak leafless trees and light at last the Abbey’s sunken rose garden this sonnet came to me.You can hear me read this poem by clicking on the title or the play button. the image above, which anticipates the ‘great ‘O’ Advent antiphons, was created by Linda Richardson in her book of artwork responses to Waiting on the Word.
I made this great ‘O’ on St Lucy’s, as a foretaste of the ‘O Antiphons’ that will begin on the 17th. Here in the dark days of winter Malcolm describes a frozen pond, winter skies and ‘frosty light that yet recalls the glory of the summer…’ The ground of the painting is a chilling white and blue, the ‘O’ is frosted with streaks of white but there is too, beneath the layers of paint and gleaming through, a recollection of summer light, even though ‘winter night will soon surround us here…’.
Nothing much is happening in this painting just as it seems that nothing much happens in the dead of winter or in the dark night of the soul. It is at such times that we might discover with a great ‘Oh’,that it is Jesus who is praying within us, Jesus who understands, and that the song of His love for the Father can always be heard within us, even in the dark depths of winter.
As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the title or the play button
Launde Abbey on St. Lucy’s day
St. Lucy’s day is brief and bright with frost,
In round cupped dew ponds shallow waters freeze,
Delicate fronds and rushes are held fast,
The low sun brings a contrast to the trees
Whose naked branches, dark against the skies
And fringed with glory by the light behind,
In patterns too severe for tired eyes,
Burn their bright beauty on the weary mind.
Saint Lucy’s sun still bathes these abbey walls
And in her garden rose stalks stark and bare
Shine in a frosty light that yet recalls
The glory of the summer roses there.
Though winter night will soon surround us here,
Another Advent comes, Dayspring is near.