Sundays are Spirituality Day here at Taking it to the Streets
When I was a child, my parents celebrated Advent. We may have had those Advent calendars – if so, I don’t recall. What I do recall was the sense of sacredness, of ritual and of building excitement. We had an Advent wreath on the dinner table and we’d light the appropriate calendar each night until, finally, it was Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve, similarly had much ritual and excitement at my house. We were children then, so of course a lot of the excitement had to do with “Stuff” – the toys and games we eagerly awaited on Christmas morn.
But my mother instilled another type of excitement – that of spiritual birth.
Regardless of our spiritual path, of whether or not we practice Christianity or any organized religion, I think there is a sense of big change at this time of year as the “wheel of the year” is about to turn into another season.
Our beliefs and the stage of life in which we find ourselves drive a lot of how that expresses. But I think it’s worthwhile stepping outside of the DOING and asking a few question:
- For what or whom am I preparing?
- What is the meaning behind the rituals in which I engage?
- How can I deepen the meaning, devotion and joy of this season for myself and my family?
It strikes me that regardless of our personal beliefs, those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are preparing for a time of more darkness, of more interiority. To me it seems that any ritual or activity that focuses on some of these elements is key:
- Earth. We honor earth, as the season changes (perhaps a Christmas tree, a holiday wreath, a swag of evergreens on your mantel)
- Warmth. In the Northern Hemisphere we are heading into a colder time – the hearth, the fire of Advent candles, the turkey roasting in the oven and warming the house – bringing in warmth is key
- Family. Whether our family of origin, the family we created or the family we choose – it’s a time of year to celebrate the bonds of love.
- Children. As we approach the ‘elderhood’ of the year (as foliage and green ‘die’ for the winter) it is hopeful to remember birth. Thus children are important beacons of hope. Besides, it is fun to give them gifts and watch their delight.
- Nourishment. We live in an abundant age, and so winter starvation doesn’t seem imminent - in fact, for many of us, the surfeit of holiday calories is totally antithetical to the notion of lack. But it has not always been so. And our feasts remind us that, despite the outer appearances, God and the good earth have continued to provide for us.
- God. In however you honor the Creator of All that Is, it’s a good time to reconnect with awe, wonder and gratitude for the Divine.
In my own life, I have focused more on simplicity of late. I don’t get much into the cultural hoopla and materialism this time of year. But I do focus on the points above in my own ways: the wreath by my front door, my often-lit fireplace and candles, sending St. Nicholas chocolate letters to my grandnieces and grandnephews, a festive meal on Christmas Day and increased awareness of God’s goodness and my gratitude for my amazing life.
How about you? What are you doing that really resonates with your core beliefs? What part of the holiday season no longer has meaning for you – in fact, stresses you out? How do YOU want to prepare this year? As always, I really want to know!