The land is white with frost this morning, a perfectly Advent kind of day. My favorite of all seasons is here again. This favoritism of mine puts me a bit out of sync with the commercial world--well, with the secular world altogether. Last night I watched the Hallmark Hall of Fame 2009 Christmas program which I’d recorded on Sunday, a tale about “A Dog Named Christmas.” It had all of the heartwarming themes of a classic dog story--loyalty, courage, devotion--in which friendship with a dog saves someone from a deep hurt that’s taken over his heart. I love dogs, so I appreciated most of Hallmark’s sweet and sentimental narrative. But one thing caught like a claw in my mind. The words, “On December 26th the dog has to go back to the shelter, because that is the day Christmas ends.”

Wait! This family, sweet as they were, was celebrating Christmas all during Advent. They intended to stop on the 26th, just as I will have begun. But then it is almost impossible to buck the culture that surrounds us. Everywhere are Christmas trees and lights and silver bells. And over the years I’ve found myself incorporating many of what used to be exclusively Christmas symbols into my Advent preparations. I just change their meaning a tad. Advent observes these four weeks before Christmas as a time of waiting for the three comings of Christ: the memory of the coming at Bethlehem when, as Father Mike said this Sunday, “God broke through the boundaries of our world”; the awareness of the moment by moment coming of Christ into our individual lives; and the final coming of Christ in the fullness of time. I light my advent candles each night at sunset, praying that the Divine Light will come soon to dispel the darkness. I put up a Christmas Tree right along with everyone else to light the way through the dark wilderness of time. I buy candles and light them in the darkness before dawn each day to burn during prayer.

Wonder mounts each year as we move closer to the Christ-Mass, the thanks-giving celebration for the God-With-Us: the Emmanuel. And that is just the beginning, not the end. Christmas season lasts until February 2nd. Nobody seems to know that anymore, and I find it sad to realize that for most of us the season of joy is cut so short. Tradition has the season continue until the celebration of Candle-Mass, at forty days distant from the Christ-Mass, when according to tradition Mary would have gone to the temple to present her son along with two white doves. It is the day of the old prophets, Simeon and Anna, the day they predict who this child is to be, and open the doors of the mind to the paradox of earthly life. To Mary, Simeon says, “a sword shall pierce your soul.” If Christmas ends, this is the day of that foreshadowing. In some eternal plan, though, it will never end, and there’s the paradox.

Come to think of it--Hallmark has the dog find his way back to the family even though they return him to the shelter as agreed, on the "day that Christmas ends." It’s a classic dog story theme, so I wasn’t surprised. But just now I had to laugh. Even though they told us that Christmas would end on December 26th, that very same night Christmas came back.






I fell in love with Advent in the monastery. The hope and longing with which we greeted each day as we approached the birth of the Christ child. The beauty of the liturgy, the darkness, the light, the chant, the hymns. All in waiting.
Luna said…
How I have enjoyed your blog entries, always, but especially over the past month with your thoughts on Advent!

One of the beauties of living in the northwoods is the longer nights and later dawn as we draw near to the birthday of the Son at Christmas, and the Sun at Solstice. (My youngest sister Terri calls this time of year from All Hallows/All Saint's Day to Epiphany The Time Of Holy Darkness)At this time of the year I enjoy the solitude of this time of singing darkness, spend time with my thoughts, am aware of my inner life. This morning as I sat with my coffee watching the morning break over the slight ridge to the east I was struck by the color and the awareness that in dawn, we are presented with the colors of Advent nearly every morning of the year! Purple, pink, followed by bright white light, surrounded by the evergreen of pines, it's all there in the morning sky over Lake of the Woods County! We are familiar with the quote "Let us keep Christmas in our hearts all year!" But perhaps it truely should be "Let us keep ADVENT in our hearts all year". Let us keep the hope of Advent always in our hearts, a candle of hope always present, always glimmering when we look inside, sometimes only a "dimly burning wick" that draws us forward when times in our lives seem the darkest!

I too saw that Hallmark movie and enjoyed it very much and was cheered to see that Christmas came home forever. It bothers me (and my husband) that people start taking down all the lights and "putting away Christmas" on the 26th when the season of Christmas is just begun! Our tree stays up year round, moved from the living room to either my office upstairs or a corner on our front porch where we can light it when we need to be reminded of hope.

Macrina Wiederkehr wrote:
"I am the one for whom God waits!
I am awating the One who is awaiting me!

Embrace the season of winter with hope. it is a good teacher. it will lead you to your inmost depths where God is comtemplating you."

Blessings of light to you dear Christin!
Ah my dears! These words contain such power and beauty, each should be in your own blogs. I hope you paste them in there!!!

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