Advent Reflections - Converge magazine
Faith Reflections

An advent reflection

The snow falls outside my living room window. I can hear my mom singing my little sister to sleep upstairs. I walk to the door that leads to our basement. I turn the knob slowly, trying not to make a sound. I go in and close the door tightly, leaving me alone in the dark.

My feet are cold against the old wooden stairs. I tuck my arms into my pajamas, an oversized T-shirt covered with my sister’s brightly painted hand prints. I lean back against the wall and breathe in the stillness. It smells damp and yet there’s also the familiar, sweet scent of sawdust. It’s coming from the same place as the lone light that escapes through the cracks of the door at the bottom of the stairs. I can hear music playing and the skill saw running.

 I sit for a long time, completely alone in the darkness. I slow my breathing to match the stillness.

This is Advent.

I listen, trying to imagine what will soon sit under the Christmas tree.

I feel loved. There is joy in the anticipation. Joy in the stillness and solitude. Joy in the waiting. Joy in the damp, darkness of the basement steps.

Scattered throughout the house, we all have our little workshops. Tucked behind the pulled out dresser is a workshop just my size with scattered materials. With little bits of wax, I make a manger scene on an old candle for my mom, I paint a picture of a forest for my dad. And for my sister, my mom has shown me how to make a yarn doll.

It was the same each year, never store bought gifts. We tenderly crafted gifts for one another throughout Advent. To me, the liturgical season smells of wood and glue.

Each night before dinner, we would light the Advent wreath and sing for Emmanuel. As we grew older, we went from blowing out the candles to lighting them to gathering the pine to weave the wreath.

This year, I wove our wreath just like my mom did. The smells remind me of her. How I miss her touch and presence, yet in the act of picking the pine and lighting the candles, I know she is here. As we sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” I hear her voice. And this year, my own child celebrates his first Advent. He stares wide-eyed as we light the candles and hums a little as we sing.

In our own corners, there are crochet hooks, knitting needles, and sand paper: soon to be stuffed animals and wooden blocks. In the remembering and embodiment of these rituals, I introduce my child to my mother.

So, this year and every year, we light the candles. We sing for Emmanuel. We pay attention to the light. We honour the dark. We watch the snow fall. We slow down. We create gifts. We give thanks for the cloud of witnesses. We join the great history of all those who have shared these traditions and will ever share them. We love those who have died and feel their love within the reenacting.

We remember. We wait. We listen. We rejoice.

Flickr photo (cc) by  Micah Taylor