Advent begins tomorrow, at least Celtic and Orthodox Advent. I rarely look forward to the beginning of this season of waiting, reflection and prayer as I am this year.. The violence of wars and mass shootings, the crisis of climate change and the devastation from hurricanes and droughts is overwhelming. We all need times of quiet contemplation, times to wait not passively but actively, times to grieve and pour out our anguish before God, preparing our hearts and our minds for the current over the next few weeks before Christmas and there is no better time to start then now. Why now you might ask? Celtic Christians always prayed and fasted for 40 days in preparation for any major life event, whether it be the planting of a new monastic center, the beginning of a new adventure as well as for preparation for Christmas and Easter. I think it is a great idea and I am not sure when Western Christians shortened advent.
One of the delights of adhering to Celtic Advent for me is that there are no set traditions or observances that we know of, so I feel free to use my imagination and create my own. This year spending time thinking about what I want my sacred space to look like and what practices I want to use each day nourished and brought joy to my soul. My circle of light is complete, with more candles than ever this year and it is a delight to light them each morning as I sit in the dark for my morning time of meditation. This year I have not created an advent garden as such. My whole desk looks like a garden though as I moved several cyclamens and other plants onto it to give me a sense of joy and delight. I looked for a Celtic Advent wreath, with space for six votive candles, but they just don’t exist. So instead I purchased a circular table centerpiece with space for 6 candles. I am still waiting for the Celtic symbol stickers to arrive with which I plan to decorate each candleholder. I also arranged all my Celtic style crosses around my space. Evidently the Celtic monasteries were often surrounded by a circle of crosses as a symbol of protection and I really find comfort in this addition to my space this year. I just wish I had a few more crosses. Finally I pulled out my Celtic prayer cards and additional Celtic prayers as well as my Spotify Celtic Advent playlist to use throughout the coming weeks. I will redecorate the space at the beginning of traditional Advent with some of my Advent icons and prayers.
This week I begin with a simple circling prayer:
God almighty, circle us,
Circle the poor with your justice,
Circle the violent with your peace,
Circle the broken with your wholeness,
God almighty, circle us.
Circle us with the wonder of your love,
Circle us with the beauty of your creating,
Circle us with the glory of your presence.
God Almighty, circle us,
One in three, three in One,
Circle us with the joy of your abiding.
On Godspacelight, my Meditation Monday this week focused on Palestine. Last week I found a beautiful plaque written in Arabic which says Christ/Messiah Saviour of the World. It stirred my prayers even more passionately towards the people of Palestine and also encouraged me to look more into the Christian history of the Palestinian people. I hope you find this as interesting as I did.
In her post for World Kindness Day on Saturday, Make Kindness the Norm, Kathie Hempel quotes Mark Twain “Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Then comments: Jesus modeled this literally. Her post is quite inspirational. In her Freerange Friday: Lord remind Me Lilly Lewin posted another inspirational quote, this one from Wendell Berry “Love is what carries you, for it is always there, even in the dark, or most in the dark, but shining out at times like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery.” So much to reflect on in what she shares. On Thursday Lauri Klein shared about a saint who was new to me – St Martin the Merciful who is often featured at autumnal celebrations. I loved the story about him sharing his cloak. On Wednesday, June Friesen’s What Time Is It? really had me thinking. Keeping a prayer journal and writing out my prayers each day is something I will consider for next year.
November is a busy month for all of us. Here in the U.S. we are getting ready for Thanksgiving and so I wanted to remind you of the Thanksgiving resources available at Godspace. You might want to consider using this Liturgy. In the liturgical calendar, we are getting ready for Christ the King Sunday, this year on November 26th. The beginning of traditional Advent is not until December 3rd this year, all the more reason to begin celebrating tomorrow. Check out our Advent and Christmas resources, and the Advent devotionals and other resources available in the Godspace store. And don’t forget it is time to sign up for the Advent Quiet Day, a wonderful way to make sure that you get those sacred pauses that we all need at this season.
Let me end today with a prayer by Father Paul Costello of Rosies which was given to me many years ago on a trip to Australia:
Make our hearts so human,
That others may feel at home with us,
So like yours,
That others may feel at home with you,
So forgetful of self,
That we might simply become the place where you and they meet.
In the power of your love,
And the joy of your friendship
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