Oh, Advent! How I've missed you! I'm hardly overstating things when I say that I look forward to this coming time of preparation starting... say... around February. And this year is remarkable for us. No sports practices. What are we going to do with ourselves? Oh, this is going to be absolutely delightful!
Aside from the Christmas craft show (why do I do these things to myself?), schola practices, and parish activities, we are free to immerse ourselves in the liturgical rhythm of the season... and I daresay that two out of three of those activities directly compliment that rhythm. The smells, the bells, the sounds, the handmade this and that. Yes, I'm romanticizing. But not much. Advent is a beautiful time in so many ways.
I have been dreaming of this particular Advent for many years, imaging what it would be like to be this FREE to dive in, and am eager to see how God fashions it. I am not naive enough to think that no illness will beset or conflicts arise (I distinctly remember stomach flu year. And high fever year. And...) but Christmas still comes and His grace is sufficient. We are open.
Our toddler proof Advent candles were such a success last year that they will resume their place on the mantle. It is under their glow that we will gather as a family to pray and sing.
In October, I received a little booklet in the mail that really sent my heart racing toward Advent. Lisa Hendey has published the lovely volume to aid families in their prayer and reflection around the Advent wreath. I was a happy, happy mama when I received my review copy.
O Radiant Dawn: 5 Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath is a pocket-sized guide perfect for families and parish-wide distribution. I love the format that allows flexibility while still providing structure. There's opportunity for structured and unstructured prayer, song, silence, Scripture, reflection, and discussion, in whatever combination or length suits your household. It encourages a time of hospitality with the Lord. We invite Him to dwell in us and He invites us to enter His heart.
As I said, I received the booklet in October. Please don't misunderstand me when I say that All Saints' Day suddenly seemed like a bridge I had to cross in order to get to Advent. I do love all aspects of our beautiful liturgical year. But Lisa just dangled this delicious carrot in front of my preference for Advent and it is going to take some effort to refocus for a little while. (we. are. almost. there.) Tucking my little book on the shelf. It will be there waiting.
O Radiant Dawn is available individually and in larger quantities from Ave Maria Press.