Sunday, November 27, 2011

Peace: Advent devotional

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. I didn't need Glynn's excellent blog today at Faith. Fiction. Friends. to remind me of the significance of this day -- though I do thank him for his beautiful words that did remind me to centre myself, enter my heart and connect to the beauty and glory of God's breath moving through me.

 I was raised Catholic. Baptized at birth. Communion at age 6. Confirmation at age 8. We attended church every Sunday. My mother was a member of the Catholic Women's League and every Friday, I helped her change the flowers on the altar. I loved to wander through the church, examining each statue, standing before each Station of the Cross, bowing my head and saying a prayer. Most often, I prayed hardest for peace. World peace. Family peace. Peace I wanted it desperately. I wanted it to be real throughout the world. A child with a vivid imagination, it troubled me that there was war in our world. It disturbed me and left me feeling helpless. The only thing I knew I could do was to pray. And so, I knelt before each Station and prayed, for God, for Jesus, for Mother Mary and all the Saints to rain peace on our world -- I also didn't know the difference between reign and rain and so, I prayed for droplets of peace to fall down on everyone.

I loved the church. The quietness of the space. The holiness of the environment. I wasn't too keen on the structure -- seriously? How was I, a little girl of five to sit still through all the talk? I loved the music, the incense, the kneeling up and down, the genuflecting and bowing of my head. I loved the singing, the rituals, the repetitiveness of chanting Sanctus. Sanctus. Sanctus. But the talking on and on? It was hard to sit on that wooden pew and listen and not swing my legs or count the number of nubs of wool in my sweater or pick at the scab on my knee. It was hard to be good.

 As a little girl, Advent was one of my most favourite times of the year. It was a time of peace, hope, joy and love. A time of waiting. Anticipation and excitement. It was a time when our house became bedecked with greenery and red bows, a time when the smell of fresh baking, pies and savories, tarts and cookies, and the ubiquitous Christmas cake, filled the air with their heady aromas. There was the Christmas tree to decorate and the decision of who's turn it was to place the angel on high. As the youngest, I often tried to vie for position, but in fairness, we all four children had to take our turns. Though sometimes, if my sister particularly wanted something from me or really didn't want me to tell on her for some transgression, I'd negotiate for her coveted task of placing the angel at the top of the tree if it was her year to be the anointed. Sometimes, it even worked!

I loved Christmas. (Still do.) There were all the Christmas songs and parties, and of course, the Advent Calendar with its 24 little doors offering up a chocolate a day. And yes, there was the angst and hope and wondering... would Santa really show? It is hard to disconnect the commercial from the secular in Christmas. It is challenging to divest gift-giving from the heart to those we love with a desire to keep on giving, even when credit cards are maxed out -- because advertisements and marketers keep coaxing us to express our love by giving more than we can afford. And, it is hard sometimes to remember that Christmas isn't about buying and decorating and planning parties.

 Christmas is a time of waiting. Of contemplative reflection of the significance of the coming of a child who symbolizes all that is wondrous and glorious in our world. A child for whom Christian faith waits every year to bring God's message of Peace. Hope. Love. and Joy to a world so sorely in need of Peace. Hope. Love. and Joy.

This is the First Sunday of Advent. Today, I will place an Advent Wreath on my table as I do every year and light the first candle signifying Peace. In its light I shall pray for the same thing I once prayed for so fervently as a child -- Peace on earth. And in that light, I shall be connected to other lights shining brightly with their message of Peace on Earth. And together, we shall create more of what we want in the world.

 I invite you to join me in celebrating the season of Advent in contemplative joy. Do visit Glynn's site -- he has a link to a wonderful little e-book on celebrating Advent which I have already downloaded and begun to read. As we travel through these next four Sunday's of Advent, may we each be filled with the gifts of Peace. Hope. Love. and Joy.



Anonymous said...


for those of us of different (or none) faith are not immune to the spirit of this season - of giving and laughing .... and eating it all up

adhering to a belief system is an anchor for some, a rock for others and a ball&chain for some too

what we believe, practice and espouse is right if it is right for us

it is only about the ME/MINE belief in all of WE

best of the season to you and yours,


Louise Gallagher said...

Thanks Mark -- that is the message of Advent for me. It isn't about 'what' faith, it is about creating on earth more of what we want and for me that includes peace, hope. love and joy.


Anonymous said...

the rain of peace
droplets of grace
touching every life
just as the sun
shines on us all
and the stars
night and day
God is good

Louise Gallagher said...

How beautiful!

Thank you Nance.

S. Etole said...

Just came from Glynn and Nance's ... and now this beauty. Thank you.

Megan Willome said...

I've been attending a Catholic church for exactly a year, and I was so happy for Advent to come around today.

Jodi Aman said...

Wouldn't it be great if peace was so physical, it could rain down on us? I love this!

Jennifer Richardson said...

joining that childheart in praying
for peace to rain down:)
so so beautiful.
love and season's graces to you,

Glynn said...

Thanks for the mention, Louise. Mark's book is really good.

Claudia said...

i have my advent wreath standing next to me while reading this..first candle burning... thanks for this..