Grief that Follows Advent “I have found myself thinking of paths,” I write, my voice not yet recognized as faith. “In this grace of a season, many green and white words of prophets and historians open not one but many paths.” In a calendar of words too bold for me announcing, announcing, endlessly announcing an old, familiar kingdom we’ve cycled through many times before and a familiar infant not yet grown to us, who hasn’t reflected yet our suffering— though often seen— remains strange and unknown, strange for being so familiar. There must be paths— why they allow silent prayer in with the corporate echoing on walls, allow the whispering community to circle nearby—words that may reach across our inner darkness. There must be paths, though words fall, insincere, so many I can only settle for someone else speaking Latin in an adjacent room, mysteries of my own struggles forming in my embarrassment, affirming another than my own failure, my own sadness, announcing, announcing, announcing the announcement: At the end of whispers, take for a path, look forward to a looking forward unseen yet or felt, no words yet, only a path that others have carried us to, bricks on which they’ve placed our feet, where we’ve crashed, lost in a wood, Dante in the middle of what is the path? Where are the voices you trust? Are they no more than bricks on a path, a walk in the dark? I have found myself thinking of paths. In the season that gives us a calendar, there must be paths.
Thomas Allbaugh is the author of Apocalypse TV, Subtle Man Loses His Day Job and Other Stories, and The View from January. His work has appeared in Broken Sky 67 and Relief. He is professor of English at Azusa Pacific University, where he teaches composition and creative writing.