the english church differs slightly from the roman church in having a novena before the nativity, as it were, instead of an octave. so the first of the great "o" antiphons, "o sapientia," is sung on the evening of the 16th rather than on the 17th. i love this idea of a "sapientia tide," as it is titled in some of the old prayer books. of course those of us who do not even follow the office know the great o's from the the advent hymn, "o come, o come emmanual."
if northwest arkansas had been settled by (east) indian replacements of the (american) indians rather than by calvinists, then the boston mountains would be another mount kailas. from the heights of boston flow four sacred rivers of the ozarks, the buffalo, the white, the war eagle, and the kings. it is likely that the american indians would have found this a place of great sacredness, but there is, to my knowledge, no record of their feelings about the place from which they were displaced after thousands of years to make room for "settlers." some of my own ancestors were among those settlers, and i still have cousins there. but none of them seem to have any concept of the earth as holy, as the creation revealing the creator. they were protestants, for whom the holy was the printed word. but when i visit the cemetery where their bodies have returned to the earth, i can feel a connection to this place, a connection which makes the veneration of relics understandable without rationality.
if i ever leave my little apartment in eureka springs, it will be to go back to the center of the world, at least of the ozarks. it's much closer than tibet, but to me at least just as awe full. surely this is none other than the house of god, and this is the gate of heaven. and perhaps that unavoidable realization is why so many of my ancestors called their settlements and little methodist churches bethel.