Did I mean to be absent from my blog over a year? No. This was perhaps the busiest year I ever want to experience. All good things but so many things. I was so ready for Advent this year. I happened to google a phrase that popped into my head on November 15, "a homely advent." This is what I wanted. Homely, meaning simple and unsophisticated, not grand and elaborate.
The first few links that popped up in my search for "a homely advent" included a link to The Contemplative Cottage's Celtic Advent Calendar, which began that very day, Nov. 15, forty days before Christmas. This was just the week after our tumultuous presidential election and everyone I knew was either in shock or horrified/terrified, or in dismay at the resulting ugliness of feeling. Tomorrow is three weeks since the election and while many feelings are still volatile, the immediate shock is over.
Focussing on Advent seemed like a calming and positive way forward. I'm directing my energy not on political action or social media debate or researching the rabbit trails of news stories, but on what matters most in the end regardless. I am making a renewed effort to spend time on spiritual reading, prayer, observing the liturgical year, and especially in observing Advent as a distinct period of time of preparation for Christmas. We set out our Nativity scenes and Advent wreath. Christmas decorations and gifts are staying stashed away for a later appearance.
The devotional book I've chosen for this year is "Season of Promises: Praying through Advent with Julian of Norwich, Thomas a Kempis, Caryll Houselander, Thomas Merton, Brother Lawrence, Max Picard" by Mitch Finchley. It's a small book and the daily readings are short but interesting. This year Advent is as long as it can possibly be, the full four weeks, so I'll get to read through it entirely.
Yesterday was the First Sunday in Advent, a cold, wet, miserable day that made it difficult to want to leave the house for Mass. But we made it, and "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" was sung, the Advent wreath was blessed and lit, and the Blessed Virgin and St. John the Baptist looked down at us and sang with us, "Come let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord."
The first advent candle is said to represent Hope. Christ Our Hope. Our hope for peace and justice and love and life eternal. "Stay awake!...you also must be prepared." "Come let us climb the Lord's mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths." Let's walk the path of Advent together and not lose hope.