Belly of the Whale
Ally Vertigan
November 28, 2023

Unavoidably informed by my childhood love of Pinocchio and Finding Nemo, and a lot of Sunday School lessons about Jonah, I fell in love with this poem a few years ago. Read it below or listen to it here:
Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale 
by Dan Albergotti

Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.
Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires
with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke signals.
Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.
Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each way
for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports. Review
each of your life’s ten million choices. Endure moments
of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those before you.
Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for the sound
of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound of your heart.
Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,
where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all
the things you did and could have done. Remember
treading water in the center of the still night sea, your toes
pointing again and again down, down into the black depths

Every year, I ask myself, “what will this Advent waiting look like? What will I do in Advent?” This year, I notice an invitation from the poem above. “Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,/where you can rest and wait.”

Advent is a container – sort of like the belly of the whale. It provides some structure, a few weeks while we wait to celebrate the birth of Jesus… while we prepare for new Light to burst forth over the cosmos. We are in it, inescapably; Advent is upon us! No matter what else may be on your list as you prepare for Jesus’ birth, “Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,/where you can rest and wait.” Savor this Advent time, imbued with hope, and the coming promise of God-with-us.

Holy God, open our hearts to this Advent season. May we connect to this time of preparation. Strip away all that burdens our spirits; help us rest in the grace of your love. In your holy name we pray, Amen.