This wonderful painting by Nanouk Weijnen titled Pregnant Miniature Donkey was the image for our first Advent meditation, below it are the words which were used.
Aching sides, crippling cramps,
Painful back, sharp kicks
Waiting for the end of the beginning,
the beginning of a journey
that comes at the end of a journey
which will begin a new journey.
Waiting. Anticipating. Longing.
A journey, on a dusty road.
A journey to a stable.
A journey to a birth,
A journey fulfilling past hopes.
New life takes time
a kairos time, God’s time,
a time we cannot influence or control:
the right time
not the completion of a checklist
nor the time most convenient for us
nor watching the hands tick round until …
Not the now we expect.
Before that time,
Waiting which can sometimes seem long – too long,
sometimes seem hard – too hard,
sometimes seem as if it may never end.
Is the wait in vain,
has the arrival passed us by,
In our expectation of something else.
Every birth takes time
time to be formed,
to be shaped,
as Jeremiah told,
like a pot in the potter’s hand
a vessel to hold the Spirit of God.
As the waiting time lengthens
like shadows across a floor
the time of realised hope approaches.
For now we wait,
we wait for that moment
the moment when at every birth
all things change and
nothing can, or will, or shall be the same.
for this birth,
for the change it will bring.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you.
O God you have known us from before we took our first breath,
You know each breath we have taken,
each breathe we have yet to take.
You know the paths we have travelled,
The path we are on,
the paths we have still to travel.
You know the tiredness of our days
and you know our times of celebration.
You know our hopes
and you know our fears.
You know the pain we try to hide,
and you know the anguish of the pain that bursts forth.
You know when darkness tries to claim us
And you know when your light shines bright like a beacon from our lives.
As we journey through Advent help us to see where you are leading.
Bring us to new birth,
refresh our hope,
rekindle our love,
fill us with joy,
Grant us your peace.
O God you have known us from before we took our first breath.
May we know you in our waiting breaths this night.