If you stick with with this blog long enough,from time to time you will hear me refer to The Place of Deep Indwelling. It is difficult to describe, but when we are there we instantly recognize it. It is the place where we are most ourselves, where we are the most comfortable simply being. It is the place where we live without the pretension of a mask; we are unafraid to be who we are here, rather than who we feel we have to be in society. I love this place, and it is there in the winter months you will find me hunkered down in the evening, either reading or writing a journal, often just by candlelight. When you have been there, you know what I'm talking about.
There is something very holy about the light of a candle's flickering flame, something very simple yet elegant. The Jewish Sabbath begins with the lighting of candles which sets the tone for winding down from the week. It signals that our life should become calm and we should rest. I have always thought that Advent is a lot like that: a season of restful calm which restores the soul. Many who have a spiritual practice and follow a liturgical calendar are actively preparing for the birth of a Divine Child at Yule or Christmas,others, like the Jews, are celebrating a miracle from so long ago that kept the lamp in the Temple burning. It is a season of Light. Both are places where our spirit thrives and grows.
I was introduced to the idea of Advent in a Christian context, the wreath with four candles, being lit after dinner and accompanied by a time of devotion and prayers. It is a quaint tradition, and I like it. In the past few years, I haven't actually had a wreath; I've laid some cut greens around the edge of an old silver tray in a circle and put the four candles among them. Each Sunday has a particular aspect: Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. I usually meditate on each aspect on its day, thinking about what those words mean to me.
It has been years since I participated in a proper Advent service in a church. Those prayers and hymns in that particular form ended for me with the last note played by the organ....except one, which I hold particularly dear, O Come, O Come Emmanuel. There is something that sounds very ancient and wondrously strange in that music, and the words of entreaty, and they have stuck with me over the years, particularly when it is sung in Latin, the sacred language of the soul. There is a yearning and a promise woven in the music which transcends Christianity, because I believe we are still searching for something we know will eventually come to us. Seek and find: walk the path with Hope and all the rest-Love, Joy and Peace will come to us.