Thursday, November 27, 2008

Advent - the Season of Preparation and of Anticipation. (http:\\ )

The Season of Actively making a warm place in our hearts for the sweet Child who is coming.

I ponder on the Advent candles of Hope and Love and Joy and Peace and look for ways to be mindful of incorporating these Advent blessings into all the busy things that lie between me and Christmas Eve.

I remember a homemade Advent candle holder, a pine branch, with holes drilled in it that sat on the dinner table each Advent Sunday for all the years the children were at home.

The children took turns reading the Advent prayer and lighting the candles, and in a mother's hopeful effort to promote hope and love and joy and peace all through the week each child drew the secret name of another with the promise of doing some small good deed for that sibling each day, cheerfully and without a lot of fanfare!!!

I was never sure if the end results met with my hopes, but at least the seed was planted.

There was an Advent Calendar on the wall and the children counted down the days until Christmas with small doors that when opened displayed pictures of the nativity story, until at last, on Christmas Eve, the angels sang, the shepherds and the little lambs, the cows and the other animals knelt in adoration.

It is almost impossible to find an Advent Calendar now that doesn't promise treats behind each evening's door, - Santa and the Elves go gaily about their business and the true meaning of Advent, the preparation in our lives for the miracle of the Birth, is lost.

Or perhaps in some ways the mystery has disappeared, but the power of love remains in the community turkey dinners, the Christmas hampers, the gifts of sheep or hens or cows to those in needy countries, the many active ways that Hope and Love and Joy and Peace are distributed in the spirit of the Christ Child.

It is a comforting thought....

Sunday we will sing the old, familiar Magnificat, and in the following Advent Sundays perhaps a few discreet Winter Carols will creep into the music that sits on the organ. A way of spreading Joy and Love in the face of Tradition.

Advent Song
Lady, what songs are bending
The tall grasses of your mind,
What secret music whispers down your veins,
What wax-leaf ponderings, O Virgin Mary,
Waken our little shouts of expectation?
Our thoughts have lumbered down a treeless highway,
Have sputtered their heavy loftiness, have wept
Their protest. Now we hear the distant birdcall
Oh, dimly! but the woods have heard it well.
The stars are singing in their stupefaction,
The giddy little hills are clapping hands.
But Lady, what songs sway
The supple grasses of your thoughts,
What secret music whispers down your veins?
Glorious things are said about this city
Where the small citizen Christ moves in the lanes
Of so-brief arteried comfort; but what songs
Drift through this templed alabaster town?
We see the windows lighted, Virgin Mary,
City of God, by every hymn we raise
With chipped and broken voices, and our feeble
Vision guesses sacred silhouettes.
But when the little Seed fell in the furrow,
The warm and spotless furrow of your heart,
Tell us what pure songs stirred your delicate wonder,
What secret music whispered down your veins.

Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C. [late Abbess of the Colettine Poor Clare monastery in Roswell, New Mexico]