When I was much younger, Advent only held meaning in the chocolate filled calendars that kids in other families had. I would watch with great envy as my friend opened the door on her calendar knowing that some sparkly wrapped chocolate treat lay in wait on the other side. On a good day she might share her chocolate with me, but regardless, when she was done, I would re-open each little door that had already revealed its goodie and wonder at the picture that had lain hidden behind the chocolate.
And I never once asked what it was all about…
…until two years ago. And then, I fell in love with Advent.
Now, admittedly, I am one who cherishes periods of reflection, and in this busy world, it sometimes takes something imposed upon me from the outside to make me truly slow down for more than a day or two.
Permit me a small aside: when someone complains about the lack of quiet while meditating, my suggestion is to the use the noise as part of the meditation.
The same idea occurred to me as I was driving home, and distracted drivers were swerving all over the place; in the store where shoppers are rushing and impatient - I thought, why not use it all as a reminder to turn within to where the real magic of the season lies?
Did you know that St. Francis of Assisi said, “Every tree should be decorated with lights to show that it’s filled with light anyway.” He also said, “On Christmas Day even the walls should eat meat,” but that will have to find space in a different post. The original idea behind the lights we put on our trees was to symbolize the Light that was already and always within the tree.
We can use the lights on the Christmas tree to remind ourselves that we are filled with Light as well. Likewise, we can use all of the outer symbolism of this holiday time to turn within and become re-enamored with our inner Light. We can look past the materiality of the holiday season to become enamored with the Light within each other. Imagine the new joy of walking through a crowded store using all of it – all of it - to remind ourselves of the Light that we all are.
In this way, we can use this time of preparing, of reflection as an opportunity to slow down and fall in love with the Truth of our being and the Truth of the beingness of all those around us - the Truth that we are all Light! The light of God, the Light of Unconditional Love, the Light of boundless Wisdom.
Looking back, I now know, that behind the symbolism of that bit of chocolate wrapped in sparkly paper behind the door of the advent calendar of my youth lay the real treat: an invitation to say, “Yes,” to the journey towards the Light. Our Light.