Beauty is truth, truth beauty - that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
~John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn
"Ode on a Grecian Urn is about expectation and fulfillment...sometimes the expectation is better than the fulfillment...'Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter.' Keats is saying what you can still dream about is often sweeter than reality."
In this beautifully woven story, Susan Meissner takes us on a journey of expectation, longing, loss and healing. And interweaves this lovely idea about John Keats' famous poem.
For the first time in many many years I am observing the season of Advent. This year for me it encompasses that matrix of emotions portrayed in Meissner's characters. But I am most enthralled with the idea of expectation. During this quiet and darkened season, counting down the days until Christmas, I get to experience expectation in my material world that so captures spiritual experience.
And I have been struck by the rhythm of our holidays. Of how we end a season of growth with our national holiday of Thanksgiving. How that time is available to me to express gratitude for what has transpired, what I have learned, how I have been sustained, nurtured, protected and loved. The abundance of hopes recognized and labors rewarded in the symbol of harvest.
And then, immediately, I am set upon this sweet season of expectation. A season of dreaming, of longing, of trusting as the year draws to a close. I see this metaphorically; how it can define any season in history, in life in our time/space continuum drawing to a close and ushering in this time of dreaming, longing and expectation. How this leads us to a new place.
Hold fast to your dreams, says Langston Hughes, for if dreams die, life is but a broken winged bird who cannot fly.
This is a beautiful gift. As the season of Advent leads us to a sweet day of longings fulfilled, wrapped in packages with strings and bows, my spiritual seasons of dreaming and longing lead me to pursuit what is yet to be born. Yes, Christmas morning can have its disappointments, as the fulfillment may not be as sweet as the expectation. And seasons in my life may have their disappointments as it can seem impossible for the beauty of the expectations in my deepest longings to be fulfilled. But what is sweeter, asks Keats? The longing or the fulfillment? When I experience the longing, I am drawn to that which is calling me. That fulfillment in love. I don't think we can really know that fully in our material experience. But I am beginning to see that the longing, the pursuit, the dreaming is the stuff that gives meaning to my life.