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Poor Will's Almanack: December 27, 2016 - January 2, 2017

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This winter I have been reading poems attributed to the fourth-century writer, Ambrose of Milan. His verses, sometimes sung as hymns, combine traditional cosmology with petition.     

Amborse addresses  the power that has created and orders the universe, the one who shapes the seasons of all things. He asks this giver of order to help us have the proper stability and natural balance in our spiritual life.

He requests that the author of the days might also give meaning to our days, that our lives may reflect universal order and that our deaths, like night moving into day, might fulfill the parallel promise of rebirth.

The prayer of Ambrose is like my own prayer to a figment of my imagination, a God I would create if it did not already exist.

And sometimes, I wonder if I just visualize a Maker who hears my quiet inquiries, does that Maker only exist in my head? Does my silent prayer return to me like an echo, my own voice reassuring me I am not alone?

As it turns out, winter lethargy keeps me from losing faith. Even if I simply imagine an all-knowing patron in the universe who reaches back to my soundless outreach, I join Ambrose in his rash assumptions and requests, and then in a lazy suspension of disbelief, I rest in escape and trust.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first week of deep winter. In the meantime, relax: suspend your doubts and fears and disbelief.

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Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.