By Dana Reynolds
Every year we celebrate the holy season of Advent, O God.
Every year we pray those beautiful prayers of longing and waiting,
and sing those lovely songs of hope and promise.
Advent… the coming or arrival, especially of something extremely important. Advent is also defined as “the liturgical period preceding Christmas, beginning in Western churches on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and in Eastern churches in mid-November, and observed by many Christians as a season of prayer, fasting, and penitence.”
During this Advent season the days are growing exceedingly shorter as we move towards winter solstice when once again the light will slowly begin to increase day by day. The cycle of light and dark is eternal… with the turning of the earth and also within the circumstances of our personal lives.
Advent’s darkness offers a womblike cocoon where we are invited to wait, to ponder what is gestating within us, and to hold expectancy for the glimmer of light on the horizon. For those of Christ-centered faith, it’s a prayerful time to await the return of Light to the world through the celebration of Christ’s birth.
Whatever your faith or spiritual journey, December offers the gift of going inward. This is the time of year when many of God’s creatures are hibernating… in deep slumber to awaken in early spring and begin again… hungry for life and renewed by a long rest. Our culture works counter to this season. As our animal instinct longs for hibernation, we are encouraged by media and advertising to run about busily and frenetically shopping and consuming to prepare for the holidays.
This month’s reflection is an invitation to pause, rest, and renew in the midst of your daily life.
In that pause perhaps you will have the opportunity to contemplate the meaning of your personal Advent… as you consider the coming or arrival, especially of something extremely important.
A Suggested Spiritual Practice
As you contemplate what it would feel like to burrow in and hibernate while you gestate whatever hope, dream or vision you’re longing to birth in your life, here is a simple winter ritual.
Gather the following:
A small glass jar with a lid
An image to represent what you hope to bring forth in the spring (this can be a photograph or an image torn from a magazine).
A sheet of paper
Seeds (any kind of seed will work…. even something from your spice drawer)
Glue the image representing your intention to the piece of paper. Take a deep breath. Breathe in peace and calm. Exhale whatever you need to release in the present moment; anxiety, doubt, fear, etc.
Spend some time meditating on the image and what it evokes and write about the focus of your intention on the paper. Offer a personal prayer as you fold the paper and place it in the jar. Add the seeds to symbolically represent how your dream will grow to fruition in spring. Seal the jar with the lid.
Find a meaningful place… your yard, a nearby park, or a pot of earth. Bury the jar. Feel the comfort of knowing you are incubating your dream during this time of hibernation.
Throughout the winter months spend quiet time writing about your dream. Make a collage… as a visual prayer for what is gestating within you. Trust that in the deepest darkest time of the year something is growing beneath the surface. Something new will arrive with the return of the light in the Spring.
Blessings to you in this sacred season of waiting and hope…