The Call of an Uncloistered Story

Entering this Advent season with acute aches and chronic longings, we’re drawn to the ready gifts offered by A Rocha Arts partners. Lyric expressions taken from recently-released works serve as a spring from which each week’s reflection flows.

The final week of Advent: “Two worlds apart, come close together” from The Space Between by Sandra McCracken. Consider listening to her song before, after, or while you read.

by Jason Fowler

Yesterday my kids were a part of a ‘Kids Maker Market’ in front of a little shop just down the street from where we live. It also just happened to have been the same day as the annual Christmas parade. We had front row seats as we stood behind the small white picket fence and took in the spectacle.

We live in a small rural town so it’s nothing fancy, but it’s still fun to watch. High school marching bands, antique cars, fire trucks, horses, dogs, clowns, more than one Santa Claus, various floats, and government officials passed by in a kind of slow-motion procession. Some of the floats showed a general kind of holiday cheer while others were outright nativity scenes retelling the first coming of Jesus. Elves and shepherds walked alongside their floats, throwing candy at everyone filling the sidewalks. In the end, we left with small candy canes in our pockets and the weather turning colder as we walked home.

We hurried into the house for lunch, and I sat down on the couch to take off my boots. In our living room, the lights of the Christmas tree twinkled weakly in the afternoon light. The star was crooked again at the top of the tree. And our handbuilt manger sat empty next to the tree waiting for a baby doll to play the role of newborn Jesus.

Photo by David Brooke Martin on Unsplash

Tonight we read about Gabriel visiting Mary and drew pictures in our Advent journals of the scene. We sang and prayed and read poetry. And at one point we turned off all the lights and sat in darkness – then lit the Advent candles. I looked over and the cat was lying in the empty manger. Was this blasphemy or epiphany?

“Two worlds apart, come close together,” the song says. But deep down I wonder – are the two worlds really heaven and earth? Or does this closeness pierce even deeper – with the holy bleeding into the ’profane’? I too easily want to cloister this story – keeping it safely contained in my religious piety. But this is much more scandalous… and all-encompassing.

We end our gathering with communion and then a family meal. The cat is in the manger and Ella Fitzgerald is singing about Bethlehem in the background. Two worlds indeed – joined together in the person of Jesus. What God has joined let no one tear asunder.


Jason is a graphic designer, artist, and sometimes-writer. He lives with his wife and seven kids in a small town near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. For tens years they lived in an unintentional Christian community on a farm in a small cabin by a stream. They are currently looking for land to establish their own farm and ministry center. Follow his work on Facebook @SustainableTraditions or @TerraNuma and on Instagram @wiselywoven.

Tags: No tags

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *