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December 1, 2005

advent

for as long as i can remember, the first of December was a special day for me, because my family always recognised the advent season. before i was born, my mother's oldest sister gave my parents an extraordinary handmade advent calendar with a devotional book that she had also done by hand, in calligraphy. i loved pulling the little felt symbol out of one of the 24 pockets and pinning it on the front, while my father or mother read a short explaination of the meaning. there were the usual Christmas symbols: a star, a shepherd's crook, a green triangle for a tree. but there were less obvious ones too: the four connected circles of red, yellow, white, and black that represented the multicultural nature of the Gospel; the golden anchor that indicated the reliability of Christ's peace in the storms of life; the arrows pointing up and down that alluded to Christ's, and our, dual citizenship as people of earth and children of God. theologically heady stuff for a little three or four-year-old, but it took and held.
that calendar is still in existence, but it hangs in my parents' home several thousand miles away. and it's hard to believe that long ago my Aunt Ginger sat at a table and cut our little felt scraps to make it; i think of her as this social maven/woman-about-town who lives in a highrise with a doorman in New York City, and considers Lincoln Center practically a second home and always knows a great restaurant to take me to when i'm in town. sure, times have changed, but the message of advent has not, and i still need to, want to, recognise the season.
so what is advent? according to this ecumenical site,

The word Advent means "coming" or "arrival." The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Thus, Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God. That is a process in which we now participate, and the consummation of which we anticipate.

since i don't have the felt calendar, i'm participating in this year's advent season via this excellent blog, A Light Blazes In the Darkness (http://alightblazes.blogspot.com/). it's run by the RevGalBlogPals, an online community of women "pursuing or discerning a religious vocation -- and their friends." in so doing, i want to prepare my heart, to sort of shake out the dusty corners, and not only rejoice in the coming of Christ to earth, but also give thanks for the everyday presence of God in my life.
so whatever the significance of this holiday season for you, i encourage you to join me in committing to take a few moments out of the days leading up to Christmas or Hanukkah ("rededication"), or Kwanzaa("first fruits"), etc. these are days which will most likely be increasingly filled with noise and decoration and gift buying and parties and cards and craziness and... i do not expect reflection and stillness to be easy or natural. i'll need to be disciplined to carve out the pocket of quietness necessary to hear my heart sing.
it will be good for me to remember to mentally pin the symbol on the felt pocket.

Posted by hadashi at December 1, 2005 9:38 AM

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