I love the season of Advent; it is a calling for preparation and anticipation; it is a coming to terms with the past; it is an exploration of the mystery of life; it is a calling to chart a new course for the future; it is a time when Nature is drawn into the Earth.
Roger Druitt writes in his book, “Festivals of the Year: A Workbook for Re-enlivening the Christian Festival Cycle”:
“We can say that in summer, when everything is at its fullest extent of growth and splendour, the Earth is asleep- its soul is outside and its consciousness is in the periphery. It is ‘unfolded.” In winter, however, the landscapes, light and the starry sky exhibit a distinct clarity, a wakefulness. In the Northern Hemisphere, then, during winter, nature is drawn into Earth, is infolded, is awake.”
I love this imagery of turning inward and being awake, seeing the lights above us in the stars and beautiful colors of the winter sunrise and sunset, and seeking a little bit of light for our homes and for ourselves to bring to our family, friends, and community.
Advent in the Waldorf Home is something that is frequently celebrated by people of every religious background, every faith, every spiritual path as part of the festivals of the cycle of the year. The first week of Advent at Waldorf Schools is marked by a reverance for the mineral kingdom. This quote is attributed to Rudolf Steiner, although I don’t think anyone has been able to show exactly where Steiner said this:
The first light of Advent is the light of stone–.
Light that lives in crystals, seashells, and bones.
The second light of Advent is the light of plants–
Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.
The third light of Advent is the light of beasts–
All await the birth, from the greatest and in least.
The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind–
The light of hope that we may learn to love and understand.”
I have many suggestions for celebrating this week on an outward level for children in the home in back posts – just search “first week of Advent” in the search box and many will come up with suggestions for activities, songs, verses.
However, as my children age, I am very interested in not only these hands- on activites that set the mood of Advent, but the real inner work and inner light of this season and this idea of the cosmic wondering. How do we create wonder, warmth, and light within ourselves to bring in an outward form during Christmastide (the 12 Days of Christmas) and beyond?
There are several things that help center me during this season that can be riddled and frenzied by commercialism and materialism:
1 – try to get any shopping done by the end of the first week of Advent so we can focus on crafting and making things for our home and for gifts with love for those we care about. Focus on the giving for others and marginalized groups, which we do in several different ways for the homeless children and women in our area and for the children who live in economically disadvantaged areas. This giving and work around this is an important part of our preparation for Christmas.
2- get out in nature daily so we can notice the small still changes that often accompany this season, even in the Deep South of the United States where the seasons don’t often change as dramatically as other parts of the country.
3 – establish a rhythm that is more focused on the inner parts of Advent, whether that is using a devotional booklet to help us bring focus to lighting our Advent Wreath, or using an Advent Planner such as this one from Wildflowers and Marbles geared to Roman Catholic families or Little Acorn’s Advent and Saint Nicholas Festival book. Specific to my own Episcopalian tradition, The Very Best Day: The Way of Love For Children (ages 3-10) and The Way of Love Advent Curriculum and Calendar.
Our specific plans:
Sunday – (Worship on The Way of Love Calendar) The First Sunday of Advent; Make Advent Wreath, set out Advent Reading Basket, out in nature – all through first week clean and declutter house
Monday -(Go on The Way of Love Calendar); make stuffed stars for Christmas tree, shop for gifts for the teens we adopted through our church, out in nature,
Tuesday-(Learn on The Way of Love Calendar)- reading sacred texts; add minerals and gems to our Advent Wreath; out in nature
Wednesday (Pray on The Way of Love Calendar) – silent meditation, out in nature, decorate house, bring in branches to force into bloom or plant bulbs to bloom such as paperwhites in honor of St. Barbara
Thursday (Bless on The Way of Love Calendar) – give presence, out in nature, prepare for St. Nicholas Day
Friday – (Turn on The Way of Love Calendar, St. Nicholas Day) celebrate St. Nicholas Day, acts of kindness anonymously, out in nature
Saturday (Rest on The Way of Love Calendar); Volunteer in morning, rest
I would love to hear how you are preparing for the first week of Advent! Let’s share ideas to make it wonderful.