by Christine Sine
Advent is a time for awe and wonder and I already feel it bubbling up within me. It is so easy, here in the Northern hemisphere, to focus on the darkness and not even notice the light that is already around us. I imagine that the womb isn’t completely dark either. I know it is not silent as a mother’s heartbeat is a constant companion to a baby’s development.
This week I have been very much back into awe and wonder and the glimpses of light I see. There is not just the wonder of the Advent story, but there is also the awe and wonder of what is already beginning to emerge in this season. Over the weekend, I planted narcissus bulbs in the hope and expectation that they will be flowering by Christmas. I love to watch them stretching towards the light, slowly unfolding their leaves and then their flowers. Then as I wander around my house, there is the awe and wonder of my Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti (schlumbergera) beginning to blossom. I love these exotic looking flowers, almost like a tropical bird zooming through the air. Finally on my walk, I was inspired by the last of the falling leaves – the glorious carpet of red Japanese maple I pass each day on my walk has particularly held my attention.
Not surprisingly, I have gained loads of photos of these awe inspiring sights. And suddenly as I sorted through them today, I realized that my photos could be divided into three categories: planting, growing, and flourishing. And in that, I see the whole Advent story lived out. God’s desire, a message that I think is implicit in the story of Advent, is a flourishing creation.
The Eternal God planted a garden in the east in Eden—a place of utter delight—and placed the man whom He had sculpted there. In this garden, He made the ground pregnant with life—bursting forth with nourishing food and luxuriant beauty. He created trees, and in the center of this garden of delights stood the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Gen 2:8,9 The Voice)
The Old Testament begins with God planting a garden, a place of utter delight, pregnant with life that is meant to grow and flourish. Here, God shapes humankind from the soil to tend the garden, drawing all of us into the eternal story as caretakers of a creation that is meant to flourish.
In the beginning of the New Testament, God plants a single seed of divine presence, a single seed of a new creation, entering the human story and meant to grow, flourish and be multiplied throughout the earth. No sculpting into being of a fully formed human this time, but the planting of a tiny seed that must grow and develop as we all did, in a mother’s dark and nurturing womb, in the right season breaking out as a new born baby that like us took years to develop into a fully mature human.
It seems to me that in the new garden, Jesus invites us to be a part of, we are no longer caretakers but co-creators. In this garden, that the planting of Jesus as a tiny seed in Mary’s womb began, we are all encouraged to bring about flourishing as we allow the seeds of justice and peace and generosity and goodness to be planted within us. Here we are encouraged not just to lean towards the light of Christ but to allow the light to grow within us until it bursts through the darkness of our world and brings light.
Not surprisingly that made me think of this beautiful Celtic Blessing (Lean Towards the Light this Advent & Christmas, p54-55).
I suggest that you read through this blessing slowly then sit in your quiet space absorbing the light of God around you and within you, warming your heart and filling you with that wonderful light of Christ. Imagine it germinating the seeds planted deep within you. See them growing towards the light of Christ. What would they look like if they grew to maturity, flourished, flowered and contributed their beauty and fragrance to God’s growing new creation garden? What do you need to do during this Advent season to make that happen?
May the blessing of Light be on you
Light without and light within,
May the blessed sunlight shine on you
And warm your heart till it glows like
A great peat fire, so that the stranger
May come and warm himself at it,
And also a friend.
And may the light shine out of the two eyes of you,
Like a candle set in two windows of a house,
Bidding the wanderer to come in out of the storm.
And may the blessing of the Rain be on you
The soft sweet rain. May it fall upon your spirit
So that all the little flowers may spring up,
And shed their sweetness on the air.
And may the blessing of the Great Rains be on
You, may they beat upon your spirit
And wash it fair and clean,
And leave there many a shining pool
Where the blue of heaven shines,
And sometimes a star.
And may the blessing of the Earth be on you
The great round earth; may you ever have
A kindly greeting for them you pass
As you’re going along the roads.
May the earth be soft under you when you rest upon it,
Tired at the end of the day,
And may it rest easy over you when,
At the last, you lay out under it;
May it rest so lightly over you,
That your soul may be out from under it quickly,
And up, and off, and on its way to God.