Saturday, December 20, 2014

Come to the Table

Advent Ember Saturday
Anticipating the Holy Day that is coming soon

Prayer (fourth O Antiphon)

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
O Key of David,
opening the gates of God's eternal Kingdom:
come and free the prisoners of darkness!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Maybe you, like me, are missing loved ones around the Christmas dinner table, After my husband died in 2010, every time I sat down at the table all I could see was who was missing. To me, it seemed to symbolize what our family could never be again, gathered around the table with father at the head, mother at the foot, and children on both sides.

So for a while, we ate at the kitchen counter or in the living room, on the couch by the television. I've since bought a new table (the old one is now my work table in my office) and this is the first Christmas since his death that it feels like we have hit a new normal, where the overwhelming feeling isn't that someone is missing. That wound is still there, but it has healed over, and we can have a Christmas at home without it being very painful.

I think.

We're still five days away, right? Emotions have a way of sneaking up on you. Even when your head says you are okay, your body can be acting otherwise. But I don't have that feeling of dread I did the past four Christmasses, so I think it will be fine.

Christmas cards ready to go...but feeling too bleh to get to the post office.
Maybe Monday.
I was thinking about my intention last night, to light a candle and pray for the souls of my loved ones. I have a little collection of new votive candles, left over party favors from my son's first communion, actually. I had the idea this morning to make small name labels for each one and set them on the dining table (though they move to the sideboard for the actual dinner) as a way of visibly including their spirit at our Christmas celebration. I will light each one and remember that person with love.

"The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it." --John 1:5

Today is the last of the three ember days of Advent, in preparation for Christmas. The first was Wednesday, the next was yesterday, Friday, and you can read about them in those blog posts. The ember Saturdays are for anticipating the celebration of the upcoming holy day. This is not a hard one, there is plenty to do to get ready. In former days, priestly ordinations were held on ember Saturdays, so perhaps including your local priest, seminarian, or other clergy in your prayers and when you write Christmas cards or make holiday party invitations, or put together a nice care package for him to say thanks for all he has done over the past year, would be a kind way to participate in this tradition.

Natural world: tomorrow is the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, and also a new moon.

Folklore: today's weather was cold, overcast, and sometimes foggy, with rain in the evening. We will see if this will bring us a similar March.

Tomorrow is the Fourth Sunday in Advent. The big day is almost here, whether we are sick or in good health, ready or not, here it comes.

Illus. by Jeanyee Wong, from The Cherry Tree Carol, 1951

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