by Johanna Caton

Week 1

Vast as galaxies
Small as seed.

Week II

What is it like 
to espouse spirit
give existence 
to the self-existent
birth an epoch
name the eponym
embrace the essence 
nourish the numinous
encompass infinity
enfold the eternal.
mother omniscience?

What did she feel – 
bearer of the embryo:
emblem of the absolute

Week III

The sun has drawn its yearly paschal arc
and now, below earth’s end, is lost from sight, 
and I – I watch, but not for risen might.

I watch the midnight sea of sin.  What barque 
floats here?  A crib!  So small a thing, so slight, 
and yet she wings, her sail full and tight.

And that’s the tale – I know each jot and mark: 
the most unlikely thing – so strange,  yet right: 
the crib holds God’s own Son.  Sin’s lost the fight.

And I – afraid, a child in the dark – 
I crave new proof to testify beside 
the evidence of our unending plight.

But there’s no proof.  Only the merest spark – 
one firefly in the darkness – tiny, bright – 
then flaming higher – brighter than all light.

Week IV.

Comings can tiptoe – almost on air
Big shoes can step softly
Soft as a baby’s breathing
As a baby’s skin
As His silken hair.

Johanna Caton, O.S.B., is a Benedictine nun of Minster Abbey in England. Originally from Virginia, she lived in the U.S. until adulthood, when her monastic vocation took her to Britain. Her poems have appeared in both online and print publications, including The Christian Century, The Windhover, A Time of Singing, Amethyst Review, The Ekphrastic Review and the Catholic Poetry Room webpage at Some of her poems can be found at

2 thoughts on “Advent

  1. This is a poem to guide me right through Advent. It’s so full that I read it through and then knew I would need to return again and again to it. Each verse holds so much that will help unfold the preparation time of Advent to me. And I am so grateful that the first verse, with its few lines only, beckons me in and let’s me rest with it actively. It is the perfect place to begin. The journey through the poem is necessary to know. I mean it’s necessary to know what happens… what lies waiting in each verse. And then it’s wonderful to let each verse be ‘reopened’ ( returned to) through this season. What a gift of a poem to be my guide in these weeks ahead.


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