the Light of Hope & Thought

As we approach 280-something-th day of March my calendar insists it is actually mid-December. This makes some sense, Bells, Bows, Gifts, Trees and Seasonal Cheer have started to percolate onto my Facebook feed.

Our Christmas (“Festive Holiday”?) Tree is up, lit and decorated (still no angel on top). Our Advent Calendars — yes, calendars plural, there are children, and who doesn’t like counting down to Christmas, opening one little square at a time, eating slightly waxy chocolates that have been molded into festive shapes? What are you the Grinch? — are lined up precariously on the sideboard in the dining room.

In past years there have been times when the tree was put up the weekend before Christmas in a mad rush to get it done. When every weekend was filled with an obligation, a festival, a party, a “volunteering” opportunity. This year, we are safe at home, with short days, and long evenings, so I have been thinking about more ways to bring light, warmth, and coziness into the home with simple things that won’t overwhelm.

In some Religious Traditions (that are not Christian Science because Eddy hates rituals and community building) there is an Advent Wreath, which is lit on the Sundays leading up to Christmas (more details and background can be found in the wiki article). Up until our introduction to Steiner and Waldorf I was unaware that Advent Wreaths were a thing, I had always associated Advent with flimsy cardboard calendars and counting down the days until Christmas.*

Up until now, I haven’t really given Advent much thought, beyond the freezing evening Spiral Walk (canceled this year for obvious reasons), to start off the season. Advent was always something held by the children’s teacher, and whatever other parent(s) who volunteered to take on the task. This year, I find myself considering Advent a bit more closely, if for no other reason, to have a cozy element that doesn’t feel completely overwhelming. Lighting a few candles, sharing a snack and a few moments of quiet in the darkness of the early evening feels achievable — we do something similar to celebrate the Winter Solstice, acknowledging the light will return, and the dark days will become brighter. Cookies and hot cocoa help.

Steiner’s Advent has mystical elements, however I still find it approachable as a godless heathen. Taking time to acknowledge and appreciate the natural world is a good thing.

The first light of Advent is the light of stones
The light that shines in crystals in seashells and in bones
The second light of Advent is the light of plants
Green plants that reach up to the light and in the breezes dance
The third light of Advent is the light of beasts
That shines in all creatures in greatest and in least
The fourth light of Advent is the human light
The light of hope and of thought, to know and do what’s right

Rudolf Steiner

We have “missed” the First Light of Advent, but that will not stop us from enjoying the rest of them. May you have the the light of hope and of thought, to know and do what’s right this holiday season.

* My mother, who was not raised with the Christian Science lack of tradition had sometimes talked about Advent, Epiphany, Fat Tuesday, and Ash Wednesday, as if they were supposed to mean something to us. We knew Mardi Gras and King Cake were a thing, but the religious details were never really expounded upon. It was mostly a reason for cake, and not particularly good cake at that.

Additional Reading