Tag Archive: Advent


Mary of Advent: Enclosure, Stillness, Waiting (Artist: Sulamith Wulfing)

Mary of Advent: Enclosure, Stillness, Waiting (Artist: Sulamith Wulfing)

 

 Path of Sacred Mysteries: Advent as a Marian Time of Waiting
ADVENT in the Christian tradition comes in the cold and dark of winter when it seems that we will be waiting forever for the return of Spring, the season of new light, life, warmth and the emergence of the greening vegetation that sustains us. It is in these dark days and even longer nights that we must not lose energy and Faith that although all seems hidden and silent,  a great Mystery is taking place within the womb of Mother Earth; the seeds of something wonderful and NEW are gestating in the darkness itself , and will indeed, undeniably and and with utmost certainty be born out of the Waiting Time to bring new Life and Hope everywhere.

In the Christian tradition, it is familiar to focus on the birth of a Savior..THE Savior… and so Advent is celebrated week by week, with the lighting of a candle and the reading of Scripture that expresses the LONGING of the people to be saved, rescued and renewed by One who will bring new life, new hope and new meaning to humanity in dark times. However, although the Catholic/Christian path was the inherited and beloved path of my own roots originally, as I have grown older as a woman, a mother and now a grandmother, and have spent many years in and with spiritual circles of Women, I have come to ponder  another perspective on this Holy time before the actual birth of the Baby…and that is,  ADVENT as a “Marian” time, and the story-REALLY pondered  studied, imagined and ritualized, as the story of a young, innocent Child-Woman asked to partcipate in an astounding happening: Maryto agree to be “overshadowed” by God, to defy the rules of Nature and become pregnant by Divinity…and  yet to remain within the tribe of her people, undercover as it were, containing a very great Mystery within her that surely could not be explained in ordinary society.  (artwork on the left by Janelle Michaels)

My compassion and admiration for Mary in this story is great and profound. It must also be said, having studied archeological histories that there is vast evidence of archeological HERstories also and that this particular Holy Story is not the only one of its kind..many that pre-date Christianity. But this is the season of ADVENT in the Christian tradition, and it IS winter,  during which the Earth is pregnant with the seeds of Spring’s new Life.  And so though it may be a departure from the traditional focus for this season of Advent, there is in truth for me a  very personal call to honor Mary in the enclosed time of her pregnancy, holding the Light of a very special Life within her, in a posture of Stillness, Solitude, Calm Waiting and Mystery.

It is also a time of personal remembering for those who have experienced 1514610_1431458313745785_3675754312023749390_npregnancy as a Mother-to-be in the waiting time, or for everyone borne of a Mother…and an honoring of an awesome event that can only be experienced by, and through the body of a Woman. (Artwork on the left: unknown artist- click to enlarge, Mary and Elizabeth)

 

***Notes on Sulamith Wulfing’s painting at the top of this essay. A deeply passionate mixing of both Christian and pagan symbols…metaphors all….the protective sweep of the Angel’s wing over Mary signifying Divine protection, the Full Moon symbolizing the fullness of pregnancy, the Winter scene of quiet, stillness and solitariness and the unseen seeds underground, and most powerfully, the cave-like enclosure and slab of stone on which Mary sits…a metaphor of both Womb and Tomb which are , and will become,  part of the big story… the prophetic  birth and death of Jesus, her Son

 

 

Christine, The Greening Spirit

dreams

Next on the Path of Sacred Mysteries, Part 3: Christmas Eve

 

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I was, at the original writing of this Winter series, facilitator of a Centering Prayer/Peer Spiritual Direction Circle “bequeathed” to me by Brother John of the Christian Brothers who moved out of state to a new assignment. For our theme that month, we pondered this series that I created and offered in 2010 to a local Church community. It is being reposted here again this season and I am happy to share it once again here on the Greening Spirit….

 

 

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picture: Our prayer circle in my living room

 

 

 

 

The original post below: 

Part 1- The Commercial Path

At the request of Reverend Betty Kornitzer, the  minister of our local Unitarian Universalist Church, I have been offering a monthly series simply called Spiritual Deepening. This month, our topic was Solstice/SOULstice : Season of Darkness, Season of Light which was a program..part theatre, part ritual, part mini-workshop..that I wrote in 2002 for another venue but was renewed for use in sacred space.

Presented in the darkened sanctuary of this Unitarian home, the participants traveled  ritually from darkness (the black un-lit hallway)  into light (a twinkly-light draped altar and single lantern in the darkened sanctuary)  and then back into the darkness which in truth environmentally, still remains with us until spring begins to awaken several months from now. It can be a difficult time for many, these long dark days and nights..and yet right here in the middle of that black starkness, we as humans have always sought ways to re-imagine, remember and re-create the Light that gives us hope, and greening of body, mind, and spirit. We are, at Solstice, precisely where both Dark and Light meet and interface as equal qualities, giving us a momentary reprieve from the Sun’s absence and a blessing of hope for its eventual return.

As I prepared my teaching for that evening, I became aware of how many ways that people and cultures deal with the Dark Season, and for the purpose of the pondering and meditation of this topic, I became aware of three primary paths for moving through this time. They are not isolated from one another, and in many instances they somewhat overlap, but they each deal with the primal unsettledness of “the dark” in unique and specific ways, and how we each choose to move through it, hopefully in a conscious and awakened manner that  authentically serves and energizes us. I found in the participants that this pondering gave them new insights into what was meaningful, forgotten or of no authentic use for them.

The three paths to navigating through the Dark Time of this season which we considered were: The Path of Sacred Mystery,  The Secular Path, and The Commercial Path.

I start with a reflection on The Commercial Path and how at this time of the year so many of us are pressured or  compulsed to fill the “cold dark space”  without and within ourselves with THINGS that are promoted, pushed, and advertised all around us through media of all kinds..television, websites, catalogues..as the “must haves” to make us feel better, to give us a “lift”, to divert our attention from our primal vulnerability in Winter to Nature’s powerful cyclic teachings which tell us that this is the time to pull in, to be still for germination and clarity, to rest and dream of how we might transform and grow in the course of the next year. But given that we live in a materialistic culture,  the socially-sanctioned “remedy” for our discomfort is to flock in droves at relentless speed to what Episcopal priest Matthew Fox calls “The Church of America” – The Mall.  Sad? Lonely? Cold? Feeling impoverished and hopeless? Un-nerved by the long dark nights? Find the Light! and Activity! Buy your way out of this discomfort! “Get yours now!”  Go shopping! (and support your country and the gross national product index too!).

While genuine generosity and thoughtful gifts of love and gratitude are part of the wondrous authentic rituals for bringing surprise and delight to friends and family at this time, the purchasing and accumulation of (more) “stuff” to fill in the holes never comforts us for very long. And from what I hear from those around me, the running around to complete the tasks of a long list of gift-giving within a very tight time-frame when we are already biologically tired from our work schedules and Nature’s demanding invitation to withdraw and rest during this season, often adds to an already draining sense of exhaustion. The Commercial Path says buy!, buy NOW! and buy “the more, the merrier!”   Merchandise, not Mystery!

It can be an act of radical kindness to yourself to adopt the motto “Less is More” and ponder what would truly bring the gift of savouring to yourself and those you authentically wish to surprise with gifts. It can also be an act of radical kindness and elegance to make your own gifts, or to create a gift of pure simplicity.

The invitation here is not to condemn but to awaken and identify what is  truly nourishing for each of us, to discern what brings authentic meaning and self-expression into our days and nights, and  to know what  truly restores, inspires and brings peace and energy into our lives… To be aware of where, when and how we are diminished and robbed of the vital energy (chi) that allows us to live fully and richly in the present moment while  trying to tend to baubles and glitz. ..and to be able to tell the difference between dream (that which comes from within ourselves) and illusion (that which is advertised from outside of ourselves), which sometimes can only be untangled while sitting “in the dark, by  the candlelight of the heart”. Solstice/Soulstice.  (Christine Phoenix-Green, the Greening Spirit)

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

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Part 2  coming tomorrow : The Secular Path (Cultural Rituals of Beauty)

Preparing the Solstice/Soulstice Altar

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