Discover more from Trees of the Field
A month ago, I did what I always do- I came up with a really great idea, worked manically on it for a few days, then demonstrated my unique brand of failure to follow through.
The idea was to have a post for each of the O Antiphon days, a sort of reflection and digital retreat, featuring poetry and music and videos and the drawing together of heaven and earth, near and wide, all while focusing on each of the Messianic titles.
I got two done.
So today and tomorrow, allow me to present to you the most on brand of Cari spirituality- creativity wedded to chronic distraction. But hey, if y’all find something useful here, I’ll keep hammering away at it. Grace of God, I could have all eight antiphons done by 2025.
God bless us, everyone!
O Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!
O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
Like probably every other Christian homesteader, I find so much wisdom in the work of Wendall Berry. Here’s his Christmas poem, “Remembering That It Happened Once…”
Remembering that it happened once,
We cannot turn away the thought,
As we go out, cold, to our barns
Toward the long night’s end, that we
Ourselves are living in the world
It happened in when it first happened,
That we ourselves, opening a stall
(A latch thrown open countless times
Before), might find them breathing there,
Foreknown: the Child bedded in straw,
The mother kneeling over Him,
The husband standing in belief
He scarcely can believe, in light
That lights them from no source we see,
An April morning’s light, the air
Around them joyful as a choir.
We stand with one hand on the door,
Looking into another world
That is this world, the pale daylight
Coming just as before, our chores
To do, the cattle all awake,
Our own frozen breath hanging
In front of us; and we are here
As we have never been before,
Sighted as not before, our place
Holy, although we knew it not.
Remembering that I exist in the same world that bore witness to the Incarnation, that I breathe the same air and drink the same water that Christ did almost crushes me with the overwhelming simplicity of the gift. How can I ever walk into my barn, feed my goats, greet my chickens, without seeing the Holy Family hovering all around me? How can I not see the powerful, loving hand of Christ in the beautiful ordering of creation?
What if we took that knowledge and kept it in front of our eyes all the time- that we’re moving through a world that was not only created by an all powerful Being, but a world that was experienced and lived in and called home by that same Being? Would it be a balm for us, when we felt lonely or broken or lost? To go outside, under a thousand thousand stars, and remember that our God has done the same? Could the cold of winter and the heat of summer and the aches and sicknesses and injuries of our lives be made in some way more bearable remembering that our Lord knew them all, too?
One of my favorite singer songwriters is Andrew Peterson. If Wendell Berry’s writings were put to music, I suspect they’d sound an awful lot like the entire Burning Edge of Dawn album. For me, Peterson’s ability to praise God through the beauty of creation is a masterclass in praying without ceasing.
I love that the very first O Antiphon links the wisdom of God with His creation. The perfect, merciful, righteous wisdom of God was present before all things were made, and was there delighting in the mountains and fields as they were created. It moved across the face of the waters at the very beginning, and it pervades all of creation. All of this beautiful universe, from the farthest star, to the smallest microorganism beneath our feet, teems with that power of God, with that wisdom that can teach us how to see and live and love like our Creator.
All the times I feel like God is far off, like I’m too small to be noticed by Him, let alone befriended, I go outside and let myself experience nature like I did as a little girl. I let myself delightedly examine the ice building up at every bend in the creek as the rest of the water slides by, making its way ultimately to the Long Island Sound. I tip my head back and close my eyes and let the light of the sun, a star over 4 billion years old, warm my face. I think about the impossible speed that light needed to hurtle itself 90 million miles over a mere 8 minutes. I listen to the sounds of the woods; by this point, I could tell you what time of year it was just by who I could hear out there.
I let myself exist as part of the world, not the center of it. I shed the imagined eyes of people watching a middle aged woman wandering outside like a drunk. I make myself smaller and less seen and it never fails to remind me how seen and important I am to God, and how perfectly He knows my heart.
Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of the indescribably beautiful book Braiding Sweetgrass, takes us on a frosty hike, and invites us to listen a tiny portion of the wisdom moving within all creation.
Imagine not only living simply like the moss, giving to our neighbors so much more than we take, but moving through this world with a heart full of gratitude for every single thing. I think about how much knowledge is there for the taking from the trees and the birds and all our “more than human” relatives. God imbued all of creation with His wisdom, a gift and a privilege and an unending blessing.
O Wisdom, we long for you to come to us, to guide us with power and love. We hope to share Your wisdom and knowledge, and humbly ask You to teach us how to rightly order our relationships with you, with our neighbor, and with all your creation.
In You, O Wisdom, all things in heaven and on earth were created, and we rejoice in its beauty and goodness. Amen.