This is another poem full of the paradoxes of the Christian life. I was most immediately struck by the verse “Child, parent, bride, companion / Alone, alone, alone.” Rossetti draws out here the terrible alone-ness which can exist even within the inherent related-ness of human beings, and I wondered whether this reflected some aspects of her own, often rather troubled, life.
Then there is the contrast of safety and danger, mystery and revelation, mercy and judgement. All of these, Rossetti manages to hold in tension, and in that tension to express something essential of the often contradictory nature of what it means to be human, and to be in relationship with God.
And then there is that greatest of all Advent paradoxes, the now-and-not-yet of the reality of God’s kingdom, which is both already here and yet to come. It is this paradox which means that we can say in the same act of worship “The Lord is here, God’s spirit is with us” and “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” Our liturgy – always, but especially at this season – invites us to inhabit the truth that we are citizens of a kingdom which is both here and still to come, worshiping a God who is both near and far, immanent and transcendent, more vast than the universe and closer than our own breath.
This year for #AdventBookClub a group of us are reading “In The Bleak Midwinter” by Rachel Mann. Join us on Facebook or Twitter for daily reflections and discussions. We are also raising money for the Trussell Trust: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/adventbookclub2019.