I have pulled the curtains shut, lit the candles on the kitchen counter, and turned on one of the myriad strings of small white lights that appear around my house at this time of year. What is there in us that makes us want to kindle flame in the darkness at this time of year? It must be an ancient instinct. Soon, it will be time to cut greens in the woods and bring them inside to fashion into home-made garlands (I’ve learned so much from you skillful gardeners and wreath makers these past few years!)
Hannukah, Advent, the Solstice, each of these festivals call us, in their distinctive ways, towards more light at a time of year when nature’s rhythms tend towards cold and early darkness.
Advent is a special spiritual season for me and has been for many years. In some ways it is an invitation into the darkness, into hibernation, into quietness – not a “shutting down” but rather an an “opening up” as we’re invited into spiritual introspection and exploration. For some, it is a time to read a spiritual book, use a poem-a-day devotional, or try a creative practice. What calls to you? What seems like it could be energizing? Painting, writing, collage and paper arts, music, plants, cooking, walking – there are so many different practices which beckon to us; we must each discern the one that is life-giving for us this particular year. That is how we will nourish our spirits this Advent. It is up to us; no one will do it for us; there is no requirement, no expectation. It is a gift you can give yourself, if you so choose.
For me, Advent is another invitation to the inner life, a beckoning towards our spirits which are wanting and needing spiritual nourishment it seems now more than ever. (As I write this, there is a new variant that has popped up and once again we watch the headlines as life seems to teeter and shift with uncertainty.)
Advent offers no easy promises but encourages us to set out on a journey of sorts, an inward journey, which is not a bad antidote in a season that so often pulls us outward. Join me for three Thursdays in December at 12 noon on Zoom when we’ll share a little of our Advent journey with one another.