Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Advent: waiting in the moment

Advent again. And every year, a little more suddenly than the preceding year, the same ritual tasks - that moment when you realise that it's time to forage in the forest (and we won't tell where) for just the right selection of greenery, from the delicate lace branches that droop below the candle wreath to the wonderful pink berries from the church grounds that were obviously designed by the Creator to complement the liturgical colours, the chilly morning in the empty church when fingers fumble with the secateurs and drop spiny leaves on the carpet. This year we added the cool scent of eucalyptus to the wreath for the pleasure of doing so, and the finished article was more ebulliently leafy than any of its predecessors. We wonder if anywhere else does it quite like this ... but we doubt it.*

Shortly after that I made my Christmas cake, thinking, as always, of the first time I did this, heavily pregnant and extremely sore after sitting down on black ice while shopping and deciding that I'd be happier standing, baking, than sitting and worrying. Stir up Sunday may no longer have its own collect - Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people ...  - but that's the day the fruit goes in the sherry, or the sherry in the fruit, and a week later the cake is made and drizzled with the left-over liquor. Later I shall turn my mind to puddings, brandy butter, cranberry sauce ...

And then there will be cards to think of. Is it inane still to send cards when I could greet so many people through Facebook and Twitter? Was it always daft to give them to friends we see all the time, or to the family we shall spend Christmas with? But I remember how I used to love writing the few cards I sent as a child, loved receiving them - and there's a part of me can't bear to give this up. I have dealt with presents for the grandchildren, and refuse to panic about their parents, let alone anyone else - present-giving should be a joy, not a worry.

Tonight, however, I shall be doing what I most enjoy: singing the music of the season, rehearsing carols for Christmas. And on Sunday I'm expecting to participate in a wonderful, quiet, dark, candle-lit Evensong, at which Mr B and I will sing with two friends, singing the music of the waiting and the longing that is Advent, repeating the glorious setting of my own words that is the Advent Song we premiered last year and which is now obviously reaching so many people on YouTube. I listen to it, and the wonder returns; I know that singing it will take me to a place that nothing else can.

Of all the seasons, this is the one to restore the mystery and awake the longing that can too often be submerged in the busyness of life - even church life. It's good to take time to wait in the moment.

*For the sharp-eyed and critical, I can report that by the time Advent Sunday came, the altar frontal was purple - a faded, pinky-purple, but definitely not red. Just saying ...


  1. I've recently discovered your 'Advent Song'- absolutely beautiful. I think I shall use it many times to give myself quiet moments during the rest of Advent. Thank you so much. I've embedded it in my blog post today - I hope this is OK - you seem to be offering it with a CC Licence. Let me know if it isn't - either here, or by commenting on my blog or via Twitter @Seeking1st

  2. How wonderful to hear that again through the wonders of You Tube! But there's still a place for the handwritten card too for me..

  3. A lovely post, Christine and how wonderful to be listening again to your glorious Advent Song. It's hard to believe it's a year since I first heard it and posted it on my blog.

    I still have a huge Christmas card list, mainly to elderly relatives and friends who I know very much value getting them. Not being on FB or Twitter, I still send them to younger people too. :-)