Sunday, November 28, 2010

For Advent

I am going to try to type a post for every day of Advent. They will get posted oddly, because of my internet situation, but I think it will not matter too much. Forgive me if you get bored, or check back later when Advent is over. Not all theposts will be Advent- related.

I may have mentioned before that I did not mark Advent until I was well into my parenting journey. And when I started setting it aside as something special, I found it very uncomfortable. For starters, I’m not particularly Christian (and I’m not willing to argue over that in this forum). I enjoy Christmas and have always enjoyed Christmas, because my mother made such a big deal of it. Yes, of course, I enjoyed getting presents, but I remember most vividly all the anticipation- for the relatives and the Christmas party and the caroling and the baking and the extra time with my family and the school vacation and the school party and the dreams of snow and the late nights with my siblings and the card games and the trips and the wrapping and the secrets and the mystery and the special meals and, of course, the presents.

So the notion of this time of year being exceptional was an easy enough concept, but I did not know much about Advent, nor did I have a grasp on how to bring it meaningfully into our family. I entered Advent by way of Waldorf, and I feel happy to have found it.

For those of you who do not know, Advent is the time beginning four Sundays before Christmas Eve. I will mention again that I am not completely versed in the traditions of Advent, so you might want to get particulars yourself. What you’ll find here is my understanding and my interpretations and practices based on that understanding.

Advent, for us, is a time for turning inward. Outer light is waning, and we have the shortest days of the year. As the light outside of us decreases, we have more time to acknowledge the light carried inside each of us. I like this idea of honoring our inner light, but I also like to mark the weeks of Advent the way I learned of them through Waldorf.

This is the first week, and we honor the light of the stones- “stones that live in seashells, in crystals, and in bones.” Earth is quite special, as we all know, but life is built on these rocks. They are ground by wind and water into the soil that feeds us and into the minerals that make up life.

I have trouble explaining this week’s focus to the children every year, but I feel awe when I walk in a stream bed and see what the water is making for us (and I do not mean only humans, but all life forms). Even volcanoes, as destructive as they are, bring rock to the surface of the earth in an enriching way.

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