Today I’m delighted to have Margaret Kirby as my guest on Letters to the Lord. I met Margaret over email this summer as she and her best friend were reading my novel, The Swan House. Margaret is a gifted young writer whose post today gives us much to ponder as we begin the glorious Advent season. Welcome, Margaret!
Yeats told me once that things are falling apart, that the center cannot hold. I always assumed he was right. Maybe he understands things better than I. But I don’t think I believe him anymore.
This year has been fraught with all sorts of unbalance, and the last thing I would say about my life is that it’s holding together, but there are moments when I feel as if everything is right and as it should be. I’m trying to cling to these moments. I imagine myself gathering them, picking them up like petals on a path so I can feel their softness in my fingers when the world tries to tell me there is no beauty. One of these moments I’m clinging to has been singing with my college choir each day. We’ve been rehearsing in one of the most beautiful spaces– Hodges chapel on our campus– it’s a place that takes your breath away and makes you want to whisper and shout for joy all at the same time. There’s a dome, a big blue dome with a whole company of saints and angels surrounding the perimeter. I never feel like I’m alone in Hodges. And there’s something about blue domes and heavenly heights that sends sound soaring, sound that would normally dissipate all too swiftly, lingers for a while, reminding us that maybe melodies are meant to be held onto longer than we think they ought to be. When I sing beneath the center of that dome, I feel like I’m being held.
Recently I read in Hebrews: “At that time God’s voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken– that is, created things– so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:26-28).
We are inheriting a kingdom that cannot be shaken. And although we are looking around at our world, at everything shaking and falling apart, maybe it looks like anarchy is let loose upon the world, but the One at the center of the dome told me that He would remove whatever can be shaken so that what cannot be shaken may remain. And the whispered response of my friend Augustine floated down from those heavenly hallways saying, “our house, Your eternity, does not fall down.” And He has set eternity in our hearts. There is a house within us, a sanctuary housing eternity, centering all this entropy. I know it’s inside me. It’s that tug on my heart when I have to tear myself away from beauty. When I have to leave the trees dripping with the gold of evening to go write a paper. And it’s also that longing that sometimes keeps me up at night, that longing to be held. To be known. Truly known. (Not unlike sweet Mary Swan).
And what is Advent if it’s not one stretch of longing. “Dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.” We need it this year more than ever. I’m realizing that longings for beauty and longings for love actually all intersect somewhere. I felt it beneath that dome. The unity. The crescendo when we realize He’s inside us. All these longings, for love and beauty, for order and calm, they all meet inside us–we feel them to the depths of our cores, but these longings also meet in the One who loves our souls– they meet in Him because they are met in Him. “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.” He fulfills them. And this is the most beautiful thing of all, that this Lover is my Lover. He is inside me and He is inside you, filling our empty places, bringing the longings and the strife to a calm center, and holding us. So no wonder all those lines of longings overlap and enfold our hearts. No wonder life is such a mixture of pain and joy. We’re the point of intersection! And if we’re where all these longings come to collection, then we must also be the point of resurrection. For if we didn’t feel these things, then that would mean their convergence, the center where our Lover waits for us, wouldn’t be inside us after all. And then I think chaos really would reign. Then I think things would fall apart. But you see, the center will hold. I have felt Him holding me.
I’m so grateful for this opportunity to share my thoughts with you and for Elizabeth’s kind spirit and generous mentoring! Godspeed, friends, and may your Advent season be full of light.
Margaret Kirby is a junior at Samford University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English with a double-minor in Classics and Philosophy. She is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, the Wide Angle editorial staff, and she sings in the A Cappella choir. Some of the things she loves most are the sky, old books, the smell of coffee, and the way food brings people together. She especially loves her Southern authors (mainly Sidney Lanier and Eudora Welty), and she also considers George MacDonald to be her grandfather in the faith. Her main purpose in life is to re-discover the magic of being a little child in the kingdom of God. So when she isn’t reading, writing, or singing, you can probably find her out gazing at clouds, wandering through forests, or looking for fairies.
You can find her on instagram @margaret.kirby.writing
and at Labyrinth of Dreams