Advent 3 (and 4 and…)

So here we are on Christmas Eve.

For two weeks I’ve had “Write Mysteria Advent 3” on my to-do list. For 3 days I’ve had “Write Advent 3-4” post on that same list. Alas.

Late last week, I was really beating myself up about not writing a post for Advent 3. I got to Friday night, looked at my to-do list and started to cry. I hadn’t crossed anything off  — it had just grown. I was so frustrated! Thwarted from my project only two weeks in? What kind of pilgrim did that make me?

Perhaps it makes me a pretty average pilgrim. Maybe the last week of migraines & work stress are just like blisters when you’re walking. Maybe that’s just a good lesson for the journey — that life gets in the way sometimes, but we just have to keep re-aligning ourselves, listening for God’s voice, watching for God’s signs, feeling God’s presence. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed; God was/is right there in the stress & “distractions”.

So maybe I’m a little late with this post, or maybe I’m right on time.

Advent 3 Collage
Advent 3 – 3rd Candle lit, Xmas Liight Tree hung, Nativity set up, Advent coloring
Advent4 Collage
Advent coloring, 4th candle lit, scenes from Mass, Psalm 89:1

I haven’t exactly been idle – I’ve also been writing blogposts for A Nun’s Life. If you’re looking for some good music to prepare you for tomorrow (or just to listen to!) then click away!

Advent 1 :: Hope

Advent 2 :: Peace

Advent 3 :: Joy

Advent 4 :: Love

 

 

 

The Intermingling of Our Days

Today Mysteria ventures into the mysteries of intermingled, interfaith calendars with Meredith Gould. Meredith is my good friend and fellow pilgrim. You can connect with her via her website and on Twitter:  @MeredithGould.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of

It’s the sacred season of Advent and we’re coming up on the O Antiphons. My childhood hanukkiah is ready-to-go. Yes, that’s right – the pink candle has been lit for the third Sunday of Advent and I’ve found last year’s stash of birthday cake candles, which are the only ones that will fit into the cups of my diminutive hanukkiah. I may be baptized, but I’ll always be a Jew in identity, something that makes for an interesting interior life, especially when traditions from my childhood and adulthood collide.

This year (2014/5775) the O Antiphons are in near perfect alignment with Hanukkah. Eight days of candle lighting begin at sundown on December 16. Seven days of chanting the O Antiphons begin on December 17.  Given the sweep of time and movement of the moon, I’m sure these traditions have converged at other times, but not in my experience.*

Strange but true: I look forward to contemplating a potent mash-up of obedience, self-defense, waiting, surrender, death, birth, and miracles. Also strange and true: it’s a familiar mix of contemplative fodder made more present and potent by the coming together of these ways to commemorate extraordinary encounters with God.

I’m comforted by knowing that the O Antiphons, which are based on passages from Isaiah, begin with O Sapientia (Wisdom). I’m sustained by knowing that the first night of Hanukkah includes this blessing, “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.”

This year, Hanukkah ends on Christmas Eve.​ God? With us always.

*Jews have celebrated Hanukkah since 138 B.C.E. and the O’s became an Advent prayer tradition by the 8th C.E.

Comfort and Joy

It’s the Monday of the Second Week of Advent, and I’m feeling very, very weary. This weariness has been holding on to me for a few weeks, and I thought it was S.A.D. or at the very least the time change. As I talk to people, though, I’m sensing that the weariness is something many of us are feeling and it’s accompanied by a general “bruised” feeling, like our souls are being battered and we’re just not sure what to do anymore.

We lit the second candle on our Advent wreath last night, the “Peace” candle. When I was writing the other day for the A Nun’s Life blog, I was really focused on the reading from 2 Peter in this week’s lectionary readings — the call to repentance. Peace, I mused, can only come when we acknowledge a wrongdoing, when we repent and when we seek reconciliation. As I spent more time with the readings, though, I was really focused on Isaiah: “Comfort ye.” I feel like I need that more anything, and it’s what I need to offer to others. Comfort. An acknowledgement that our suffering is collective, that we’re all worried about the world, and feeling helpless, but we’re in this together, and together we’ll figure it out. It’s not an especially profound reflection, but perhaps when we’re feeling as wounded as we are, what we need is something simple. A kind word, a gentle hug, a softened tone of voice, the emotional equivalent of comfort food… though perhaps we need some more comfort food around the table with the people we love to remind us of why it’s all worth it in the end.

Advent2Collage
Scenes from Advent 2

Advent 1 :: Hope

I’ve always wanted to have an Advent wreath both to light each Sunday and to have as a focal point in the household. After deciding to embark on this pilgrimage this Advent, I decided I would make my own Advent wreath. Pinterest provided several options — you can see some of them on the Mysteria :: Advent Pinterest board.

I decided to go with a painted votive version, reasoning that instead of trying to find purple & pink candles every year, I could have these votives to reuse each year. I bought the votives, paint, wooden stars, fake holly & ivy and a grapevine wreath at a local craft store. Here’s what the creative process looked like:

Preparing my Advent Wreath
Preparing my Advent Wreath

Sunday night, we lit the first purple candle, and talked about our hopes for the Advent season. I am hoping that people who are in need of healing in body, mind and spirit will receive that healing. I know so many people who are aching – fighting cancer, enduring panic attacks, grieving loved ones, feeling alienated from the Divine. It is my prayer during this season of Hope that they will know God’s embrace.

Here are some after pictures:

My Advent Wreath
My Advent Wreath