Sunday, December 23, 2007

Short week...

The week of Advent IV is a day and a half long this year. That's what happens when Christmas falls on Tuesday. We had our normal Monday rest day yesterday (although only a few got any rest.) Most of us were about the business of last minute Christmas preparations. Some were cooking or baking, some grocery shopping, while others attended to the assorted rest day activities for the elderly sisters.

I made a haul at the Farmer's Market... six poinsettias and two big bunches of assorted mixed Christmas boughs. We used to take the car to Staten Island for our Christmas flowers (when the budget was four times what I spent yesterday.) We no longer have the car, and are scaling down in other areas as well. It felt good to spend so little and create so much. I approach flower arranging the same way I approach cooking: collect the leftovers and see what I can make that doesn't look or taste like a rerun.

So this year we have a big basket of assorted boughs under our altar, mixed with the late-blooming herbs from our garden, holly and some sweet kale flowers. A large red velvet bow adds the color. Today we set up the creche, hang a wreath on the altar cross, and will be close to being finished.

This entire Advent has been a bit of a blur for me. I was focused on other things. The liturgical year has never quite matched my spiritual cycles anyway... except for Holy Week. But I remember some Christmases past when I never even celebrated Advent until I was taking down the tree. It's easier to celebrate subliminally now, and I recognized an odd pattern with the prayers for each particular week:

Advent I Give us grace so we can cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light... We can do this ourselves. We just need a little help.

Advent II Give us grace to heed the warnings (of your prophets) so we may forsake our sins... Okay, we're not getting it yet, we see that. But all we need is a little help and a reminder now and then.

Advent III Stir up your power... and with great might come among us. We are so totally blowing it, you'd better do something dramatic to get our attention.

Advent IV Purify our conscience... by your daily visitation... so your Son will find us prepared... It's all in the ordinary everyday encounters that we are sanded down to anything close to perfection. Attention to detail, acknowledging the small errors in judgement or compassion. Practice, practice, practice. Ignoring our conscience is the easy way out, but it never works for long. It's a short week to practice.

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