Light: Advent Word 15

Let light perpetual shine upon us.

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Among: Advent Word 14

Among all the Advent words for this year, only today’s is a preposition. The remainder of the list comprises seven nouns and fourteen verbs (including, of course, some crossovers). These are the  draft horses of the language–the persons, places and things and the actions they perform. They are easy to write about because we can combine them into simple sentences–Awaken, messenger!–and then modify them with adjectives and adverbs–Awaken now, bold messenger. Continue reading

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Trust: Advent Word 13

Every day, we make our most potentially life-altering decisions based on trust–blind trust. When we approach a green light in busy traffic, the prudence of “trust but verify” would create chaos, so we keep a steady foot on the accelerator and move through the busy intersection. We  trust both that the lights on the perpendicular streets are red–and that the possibly distracted drivers approaching them will stop. Continue reading

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Wilderness: Advent Word 12

As I began to ponder today’s assignment, I realized that when I think of wilderness, connotation is everything. My husband’s idea of wilderness is the Canadian tundra, hundreds of miles from civilization. The most common Google images contain mountain vistas with trees, and the photos on wilderness depict beautiful vistas of snow-covered peaks and steep crags and oceans at sunset. By contrast, I understand that Jesus spent his forty wilderness days in the Judean desert, and even the Spanish and French versions of today’s word are cognates of desert. Continue reading

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Voice: Advent Word 11

For about six years, I produced a monthly newsletter entitled “The Voice” for the tiny congregation at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church. I included a message from the vicar, parish news with photos, a calendar of birthdays and anniversaries, happenings around the Anglican communion, and a children’s puzzle pages. And I generally wrote my own meditation of the sort that has made keeping a blog so seductive an occupation. I produced the bifold pamphlet without the aid of a desktop publishing program, cut and arranged the pages, ran them off on pastel paper with our photocopy machine, and folded, stapled, stamped, and mailed them. It was a gift-based ministry that gave me much satisfaction. Continue reading

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Watch: Advent Word 10

Etymologically, the word watch has remained fairly consistent since it was introduced into Old English as wæcce. Over these many centuries, the sense has been that of remaining awake for the purposes of vigilance, devotion, or public security. The meaning of “a small timepiece” arose only in the 1580s, from a mid-century word meaning “a clock to wake up sleepers.” Continue reading

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Messenger: Advent Word 9

“Saint John the Baptist,” Leonardo da Vinci (1513-1516?)

For the processional hymn yesterday at St. Michael’s, we sang about the last prophet in the Christian tradition, the messenger whose words of repentance we heed each Advent:

On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry
announces that the Lord is nigh;
awake and harken for he brings
glad tidings of the King of kings.

Then cleansed he every breast from sin;
Make straight the way for God within,
and let each heart prepare a home
where such a mighty guest may come.

Continue reading

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Prepare: Advent Word 8

Music plays an essential rôle in my Advent preparations.

Liturgical worship is full of paradoxes, one of which is that we don’t sing Christmas carols as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. This practice of self-denial has become part of my annual Advent discipline. Singing is necessary to my being, so forgoing the songs and carols of Christmas provides a strong reminder that to wait is difficult, to live only with hope is frightening, and to prepare is essential. Continue reading

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Focus: Advent Word 7

In the spring of 1965, my father entrusted me with his Kodak Brownie camera to take along on our sixth-grade field trip to the Salado Indian cliff dwellings at Tonto National Monument. Photography has been my passion through the ensuing fifty-plus years. Because today’s Advent word, focus, is such an important principle for those who follow my avocation, I have discovered a wealth of object lessons in the complex process by which light converges on a film plane or digital sensor. Continue reading

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Mend: Advent Word 6

Manufacturers of athletic shoes suggest that they be replaced every six months. College students who depend on government-subsidized Pell grants and student loans to support their families rush to the Apple store for an upgrade as soon as Tim Cook announces the next iPhone. Many tech devices and front-loading washing machines are manufactured so that batteries cannot be replaced and repairs cannot be made. In this age of planned obsolescence, when “disposable” is high praise on Madison Avenue, mending has lost its cachet. Continue reading

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