Walking into St Nicholas’Church last Tuesday evening for the Carol Service I heard one woman say to another, “What I could do with is an extra week between now and Christmas.” That is the kind of comment that will resound with others as the days pass, and what has to be done is squeezed into less and less time. Most of us wouldn’t have it any other way. There is a happy busyness that generates buzz and anticipation and excitement. Should it tip over into the whole thing becoming a burden, that is, of course, another matter.
But it is not just the human inhabitants of Swanage that are responding to the signs of the times. Have you noticed that the birds are singing every morning around dawn, as if it were Spring? I heard it first last Tuesday and have been opening the door to listen each morning since. It is possible for them to be confused by street lights. Robins are said to be drawn into singing early with artificial light. But I think that there are blackbirds, and some other species that I can’t identify by song, singing lustily at the moment.
These are interesting days, and we follow those of 2,000 years ago, when a star and angels gave direction, and women and men followed their guidance, with thought and attention to what they read into the things predicted, of which they were already aware. We map out these days in numbered calendar doors or candles, burning through the passage of time. Meanwhile the tortuous contemporary politics continues to confuse us and assail us with anxiety for the future.
So does more time help? Sometimes ‘yes’, and sometimes ‘no’. Yes, when there is a real chance of change; no, when the lines are already drawn and hardened into decisions made. Of course, when it comes to preparing for Christmas, a little more time is always handy. Many of us have to force ourselves to make space, or we are so swallowed up with activity that we lose the sense of wonder. Let’s try hard to listen again to the message of the angels, the commitment of Mary and Joseph, the joy of the shepherds and the searching quest of the wise men - and - in the silence - we may hear the birds singing once more, in anticipation of spring.