On the doorstep of Advent

A previous Advent arrangement.

This afternoon I brought out all my advent books and am readying the wreath-of-sorts that I’ll be using this year. It’s simple: a plate with four beeswax taper candles and freshly cut evergreens to fill it in and make it more festive.

As I learn more about the traditions of other, older cultures and religions, I’ll admit to conflicted feelings when it comes to the Christian observances and celebrations I’ve come to hold dear. Christianity stole much of what was meaningful from “the pagans” and put its own name and “more holy” stamp on the seasonal feasts and holy days. The fact that this religion that I loved my whole life is attached to colonization, to genocide means that there is a darkness, a shadow side to it.

Where I am landing right now is within the word syncretism which is the combination of different forms of beliefs or practices. I have my roots in Christianity, for better or for worse, and that’s where I feel most at home, but my respect and interest in other belief systems grows all the time. I have added observances of other days including the Celtic wheel of the year.

But tomorrow, I will light the first candle amidst the darkness of these short days. I will sing a carol and ponder a reading in one of my many devotional books. And I will revel in the beauty and mystery of the story.

Another Advent candle arrangement from a previous year.