Stump is a blogging project of Claremont Presbyterian Church.
The raven is a curious animal to focus on, especially at a time like this.
Ravens are more readily associated with death, then with the holiday cheer of Christmas. It seems antithetical to consider the end of life when Christians gather to celebrate the birth of Christ. Yet, death is one of the only certainties in life. We all grow older, some of us are gravely ill, some choose death of our own accord. We all greet death, and come away from those meetings affected in some way.
I have sat with people who would willingly knock on death’s door, listening to the sorrow and pain of a hole so dark as to be unimaginable. These experiences changed me, and I expect that most of us have come away changed from the loss of a loved one.
Advent, the season of waiting.
Waiting for life.
Waiting for death.
Waiting for salvation.
But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said “Nevermore.”
With recent events, I’ve been slipping into the thoughts of the poetic narrator. I have flown from my friends, literally. Recent deaths tax my hope, figuratively. The ravens I see have brought death, and on their wings my hope flies away. My social media outlets are often filled with stores of another assault of a queer person, a senseless death of a person of color, or the threats of sexual assault against a woman.
However, clutched in these ravens’ talons is the bread of life. People are talking, marching, rioting in the streets at times. The message: #blacklivesmatter; our police may not always serve–may even fail to protect.
Ravens may signify death and dying, but we must be ever mindful of the rebirth that comes from death. These stories are reminders that stir our passions, and give us life. From the death of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Deshawnda Sanchez to the children of Sandy hook Elementary, or the moviegoers in Aurora, CO–at this time of year where we celebrate a birth of long ago, let us not forget these recent deaths. Let the ravens wings provide the nourishment we need, not to survive in the valley, but to come up from it, and give us the strength to say “nevermore”.
O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel
Andrew Trindle is a queer cisgender male whose mind wanders the galaxy. His delusions of grandeur might qualify him as one of the clients he serves at a community mental health agency in Washington state.. His sparse tweets can be found at @trindlea