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“The essential meaning of the word adventure/advent was: God is here, he has not withdrawn from the world, but he has not deserted us. Even if we cannot see and touch him as we can tangible realities, he is here and comes to visit us in many ways.” From Pope Emeritus XVI Christmas
Often we miss these visits, especially at this time of year, because the holidays have become hectic. What you’ll find here are a few simple activities for moving into the true spirit of Advent as preparation for Christmas.
Here’s a personal memory that warms my heart every time I think of it. I hope it does the same for you…
Seeing Jesus In Many Faces
A framed picture of Santa Clause sat on my desk regardless of the season. With its bright smile and sparkling eyes, it said, “Yes, there really is a Santa Clause.” That Santa’s joyful smile and bright eyes were constant reminders of how we look when carrying the gifts of faith, hope and love into the world. It was a daily reminder from God saying, “You can make things happen here: I’m present.” That energy filled our offices with a joy remarked on by visitors who heard laughter greeting them as they entered our offices. Laughter is a sign of hearts open to receiving the energy of God’s presence and sharing it with the world. It was His presence that made us both joyful and successful.
Fill your holidays with laughter. It’s priceless!
Set the Stage by Creating an Advent Wreath
This simple family project can become a weekly reminder that we humbly await the birth of Jesus Christ. All you need is a natural evergreen wreath and four candles. Place the wreath on a table and stand the candles at its center. The candles may be violet and rose, all white or a variation of these. Children love to participate in holiday activities. Depending on their age, they can help by gathering greens for the wreath, putting it together and placing the candles in holders at the wreath’s center.
On the four Sundays before Christmas, light the candles, say a short prayer and sing a Christmas carol. Rituals always have added meaning when refreshments are included. In the spirit of Advent, these should be simple.
Caution: Make sure the candles are completely extinguished before leaving them unattended.
Creating a Spiral Walk for Adults and Children
Several years ago I shared a beautiful experience with a family who have four young daughters. Their dad built a yurt, a round structure surrounded by temporary walls and a roof to protect people from the weather. The mom and four girls gathered rocks on their daily walks and marked a path in the shape of an infinity sign inside the yurt. Guests were invited to join them in “walking the spiral” with lit candles, spreading light out into the world. Those who completed their walk joined those waiting their turn, all humming Silent Night.
Not everyone can undertake such an ambitious activity. So instead consider walking on a single open circle, imaginally. Here are instructions for adults, followed by those for children to participate in their waking life in this sacred activity.
Note: The open circle is one in which the end point does not meet the beginning, but continues outside of it creating the beginning of a spiral. The spiral signifies possibilities.
A Spiral Walk For Adults:
See, feel and sense yourself standing at an opening in a circle. You step onto the circle so you walk in a clockwise direction. As you walk, extend your open hands before you, seeing them beaming light out to the world. When you return to the center, pause a moment and step out of the circle through the opening. (You can also do this Imaginally. Sit in a quiet place and Breathe Out Three Times, the emphasis being on the out-breath. Follow these instructions and wait a few moments for your image to emerge. Then Breathe out one time and open your eyes.
Now for the Children’s Spiral Walk
For children I suggest they walk the open circle in waking life. This can be done with a few inches of snow on the ground. Mark a path in the shape of an open circle by tamping down the snow. Instruct the children to reach out their hands and imagine beautiful light beaming from them, spreading over the world as they walk around the circle. As each child leaves through the open end, have them hum Silent Night. No snow? Make the open circle with chalk on a driveway. Or use a non-toxic spray paint that washes off in the rain. A hot drink and treat are the perfect ending for this activity.
Children are very creative, so expect to see variations of this. It’s all perfect in the end.
If you have ideas for Advent/Christmas activities, share them, please. You can reach me by e-mailing to email@example.com or http://firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Nativity: A Narrative with Recorded Imagery
Find a quiet place where you’re not likely to be interrupted. Sit up straight with your feet on the floor or on a stool. Click below for Audio of the there exercises presented below. They can be done individually, one each week before Christmas or all at the same time.
The Annunciation to Mary from the Gospel of Luke-Exercise 1
Close your eyes and breathe out three times. See, feel and know how in the city of Nazareth a virgin named Mary is betrothed to a man whose name is Joseph. See the Angel Gabriel telling Mary she has been chosen to be the mother of Jesus. “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with thee. Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son to be named Jesus. He will be great, and be called Son of the Most High. With your eyes remaining closed, breathe out one time.
See and hear Mary respond to the Angel Gabriel, saying, “How shall this be, since I have no husband.” The Angel replies, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” The Angel goes on to tell Mary that her cousin, Elizabeth, in her eighties and barren, also is to bear a son to be named John for with God nothing is impossible. Upon hearing this, Mary consents and the Angel Gabriel departs. Breathe out one time and open your eyes. Stay quiet for a long moment and notice any physical sensations and/or emotional responses you may have.
Click Below for Recorded Imagery of The Annunciation – Exercise 1
The Shepherds Watch Over Their Flocks and Jesus Birth from the Gospel of Luke – Exercise 2
Close your eyes and breathe out three times. See, feel, sense and know how there are shepherds out in the field watching their flocks at night. Observe an angel of the Lord appearing to them and the glory (light) of the Lord shining around them. The angel says “Be not afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. And this is a sign for you. The baby is wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” With your eyes remaining closed, Breathe out one time.
As night comes, the shepherds see the star in the east. They know this means the infant is about to be born. Breathe out one time and open your eyes. Stay quiet for a long moment and notice any physical sensations and/or emotions you may have.
Click Below for Recorded Imagery of Jesus Birth – Exercise 2
The Wise Men Follow the Star to the Newborn Jesus – Nativity Exercise 3 (The Wise Men and the Three Kings are thought to be one and the same)
Close your eyes and breathe out three times. See, feel, sense and know how when Jesus is born in Bethlehem, Wise Men come from the East to Jerusalem asking, “Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? We have seen His star in the east and come to worship Him.” They’re told , “In Bethlehem of Judaea, as written by the prophet…” See how a star goes before them, leading them to the infant. They are filled with joy. With your eyes remaining closed, breathe out one time. Now see the infant Jesus with Mary, his mother, as the Wise Men worship Him. Opening their treasures, they offer Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. With your eyes remaining closed, breathe out one time. Now the Wise Men turn and offer you one of their gifts. Notice if it is gold, frankincense or myrrh and remember what it is. Breathe out one time and open your eyes. Stay quiet for a long moment and notice any physical sensations and/or emotional responses you may have.
The gift you selected is for you, personally. Gold represents transmutation; frankincense, a biblical past life; and myrrh spiritual insights and wisdom. Use your gift well.
Click Below for Recorded Imagery of The Wise Men/Three Kings Follow the Star to the Newborn Jesus – Nativity Exercise 3
Meditate to Enya’s CD called And Winter Came, released in 2008
This CD is not a collection of traditional carols. It’s Enya at her best, especially its musical story about the flight of angels on Christmas Eve. All required of us is to sit back, close our eyes and allow ourselves to be transported by the music. A wonderful way to feel the spirit of Christmas.
May all the blessings of Christmas shine upon you! Barbarah