For those of you not raised in the Liturgical Tradition (you know, the Roman Catholics, the Episcopalians, the Anglicans, the Lutherans and if I left someone out in addition to our Orthodox brethren, please do not take me to task, doggone it, it's December 1 already and I just can't take it...) Advent is the season leading up to the Birth of Our Lord.
I type that phrase - Birth of Our Lord - with absolutely no sarcasm or cynicism. There are days I don't feel like much, but I am, by golly, a Christian. I grant you that there are moments when I am a lousy one, but I am one. World without end, amen.
So a little spoiler alert before I launch into food (and food sins...) and then segue into an Advent Meditation...I am going to talk about God today. About Jesus today. And if you don't like it, stop reading when you see the BIG PINK TITLE.
But first! Food. I ran home last night (okay, not literally...) and I had some frozen corn - because I like it, that's why - and I
So...he had promised to get my dinner for me @ VI [Village Inn; not Virgin Islands although a girl can wish, can't she?] and sure enough, I had...scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon [yes, bacon], a biscuit with gravy, Coca-Cola (yes, Coca-Cola) and a piece of pumpkin pie. And later, we split - that should be 'split' because I ate most of it - a piece of peanut butter-chocolate pie.
I know. Hey! It's the holidays.
I wonder how many more times I can use that dodge...
Anyhoodle, we worked until just before midnight and the paper was ready to go and off he sent it to his professor and home we went. With extra $$$. Woo and hoo.
Tonight, I just may get my Christmas tree - will update you on this.
And yes, I had praline for breakfast. Very bad of me. However, lunch will be the New and Improved Extraordinary Work Salad Bar and I am already feeling so virtuous...OH - this just in. I went to Extraordinary New and Improved Work Salad Bar and had a salad with field greens, spinach, steamed asparagus, mushrooms, pickled radish, edamame, green onions and lovely pico de gallo all for $4.76. Now, I can do this much cheaper myself but once a week? It's my treat. And I learned something. Go out and buy something really good for you to eat (like I just did.) And you'll find that eating something really good - like an excellent salad - makes the praline [which I finished...] and the grease and the Coca-Cola not so attractive. THEN...use that energy to prepare these good things for yourself at home. Wash a bunch of lettuce and spin it dry. Prep the 'other veggies' for your salad. Make your salad dressing. Grill and slice up some chicken. Have it all ready. You have to be prepared...
Where was I?
Oh! Tonight, I want to race home and make the doggone rolls....and then go get my tree, etc. Wheeeeeeeeeee!
And now...Advent Day One - Advent Meditation [here's the Big Pink Title]
WHY ADVENT MEANS SO MUCH TO ME
I have loved Advent from the time I was a little girl. Growing up as a heathen little Presbyterian, I thought Advent started on December 1. Now, I realize it starts the first Sunday closest to November 30. Hey! Close enough.
My father was a traditionalist who thought the Christmas tree should be decorated 'just so' and that it should be a 'real' tree and not the trendy aluminum trees with a rotating set of colored lights shining on it. Definitely not the aluminum tree...and we listened to The Christmas Carols (from his boyhood. My dad was born to Victorian parents during the Edwardian era, and uh-huh, he had the typical Victorian cool love of Christmas in all its Tradition and Sentiment.) I never heard "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause" when I grew up. Dad even disapproved of "Chil'ren, Go Where I Send Thee" mostly because it was a 'Negro' tune and let's not even go there. I loved my Dad. End of story. And one of my best friends in high school was a wonderful black girl - Marti C.
So...I grew up hearing every single verse of the Great Christmas Carols: you know, "Joy to the World," "O Little Town of Bethelehem," "The First Noel," "Star of Wonder," "Angels We Have Heard On High," "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear," and of course, my personal favorite, that great Wesleyan hymn, "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." And being a musical sort of girl, I memorized without trying every single verse.
And guess who they talk about? That's right. Jesus. And some of them are fairly theologically deep. I mean, I grew up in a Classical Music Home, so I was also attracted to other church music later on.
But during my heathen era - up until I was almost-16 - once a year, I listened to all the carols, in their original versions, and listened to Handel's Messiah. And guess what that's about? Uh-huh...about the coming of the Messiah (easy one for those of us not too quick on the uptake...)
And every year during Advent, our house became dark and quiet, with only a few lamps lit, bayberry candles burning in the windows, and my father's Christmas records playing on the Magnavox - Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Tennessee Ernie Ford - and the songs were mostly the very serious, very spiritual, very magisterial Christmas carols.
And something awakened in my heathen heart, every single year, during those few weeks. I listened to the music, I looked at the Christmas lights, and the universe seemed to slow down for me and I felt that I was part of something out of time and space.
In the summer of 1969, I found out what - or rather, who - that 'something' was. I became a Christian believer without even knowing what I was doing other than the distinct impression that the lights in the universe had just turned on for me.
They have never gone out.
Not in my darkest times. Not when I awaited aneurysm surgery not knowing if I would make it off the table or not. Not when I was unemployed for 11 months and my bipolar disorder acted up until I wasn't even remotely employable, and my heart was so distressed and I was so broken I didn't think I could go on in life. The lights may have shone dimly at times, but they never went out.
And it is now a time where they shine brightly for me.
Today, I created a YouTube playlist of Handel's Messiah (well, part of it...it will take some work to create the entire list of 2 kazillion choruse, arias and rec...whatever those things are...) and tomorrow, I will create a playlist of the carols and the 'better' Christmas songs.
Every Advent, it's all about rejoining that dark and quiet world, waiting and watching for a mystery. Every year, I await the coming of the Messiah in my own heart in a greater way. Every year, it's all about Jesus and nothing about the cheap tinsel and rush and bother and hysteria.
Advent is about preparing my heart for the King who has already come to me, that He might find me a better abode than in the past, a home more ready for Him.
42 years ago, I found the mystery for which I believe all people seek, in some way or another. It was the Advents of my childhood that prepared my hard child's heart for the coming of a king...