One way to define advent is the anticipation of a coming event. Historically Advent has been associated with the lead up to Christmas and involves particular rituals and traditions in the Christian faith.
These days advent has taken on a number of different meanings. I think for many people today the “anticipation” is simply the stress of being caught up in the consumerism juggernaut that is the lead up to the festive season, worries over finances and being able to afford the “expected” way to celebrate or sadness at what can be the loneliest time of year for some.
For me, it has always been “the most wonderful time of the year”. And what I have come to realise is just how much this season means to me and my mental and emotional well-being, of all things!
Anticipation of a coming event. To me this anticipation is the expectation of a positive experience, a child-like excitement. At my age I certainly can’t put this down to getting up at the crack of dawn to open Christmas presents…. those days are long gone!
Now advent is steeped in ritual.
Some advent rituals are around preparation for the coming celebration that is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the family time we are so privileged to share. Advent in my world is a way of keeping those loved ones who have passed or that live far away close by…. part of our reflection and celebration, always in our hearts.
Other rituals centre around my need to reflect – on the year that has been as it winds to a close, checking in with my dream life goals, a gratitude practice…. and gradually beginning to set the intent for the coming year.
A reflection this advent is just how lucky I am to have these positive, uplifting memories of childhood Christmases to draw on. As well as a rich source of family ritual and tradition to continue observing. And how lucky I am, being so wired to the idea of seasons and cycles, that my work allows me to take the time at this time of year to acknowledge advent in my own quirky way.
Here are some wise words to ponder…. a Celtic blessing by the poet John O’Donohue from his book “To Bless the Space Between Us”:
As stillness in stone to silence is wed,
May solitude foster your truth in word.
As a river flows in ideal sequence,
May your soul reveal where time is presence.
As the moon absolves the dark of distance,
May your style of thought bridge the difference.
As the breath of light awakens colour,
May the dawn anoint your eyes with wonder.
As spring rains soften the earth with surprise,
May your winter places be kissed by light.
As the ocean dreams to the joy of dance,
May the grace of change bring you elegance.
As clay anchors a tree in light and wind,
May your outer life grow from peace within.
As twilight pervades the belief of night,
May beauty sleep lightly within your heart.John O’Donohue
And if that is all just a bit too deep…. here is a pic of my rhino-shaped peppakakor !