By Raphael Lazo
Four weeks before Christmas is the start of a festival that we all know as Advent. Perhaps this is what we know most about Advent: it is the festival that ends with Christmas. Christmas is very much a global festival these days, alluring many with its bright lights and promise of cheer. Advent, on the other hand, is like a very subdued sibling of Christmas; an event – even a mood perhaps – that precedes the joyous outpouring known as Christmas. Yet Advent must have a meaning other than four weeks in the calendar.
We know it is about preparation and the preparation for Christmas. Some of us may even understand it as four levels of preparation for Christmas. Children see it as a time to be good in preparation for Christmas. However it may be seen, there remains much beneath the meaning of Advent. How could I look at Advent, a festival that is often on everyone’s lips yet perhaps not as understood as Christmas? How do we prepare to receive the greatest visitor humanity has ever known? Perhaps in this question is a path to understanding Advent.
Let us imagine the arrival of this great and special guest. We now need to prepare for His coming. We are giving sufficient advance notice: four weeks. We gather our family together and plan this preparation. There is a lot to do so we need to be fully organized. We break down our activity into four weeks, each with a very specific objective in mind: to prepare for this visit.
The first week of Advent, we decide to concentrate on our house. We want to be sure that our guest is comfortable and there is no reason to complain. We not only make sure the house is clean and the windows polished. We make sure the roof doesn’t leak, the locks work, doors open and close silently. In our rooms, we make sure that everything is properly packed away when not needed. Everything must be in proper order. At the end of this week, we have a house that is humble but tidy, old but in working order.
The second week of Advent, we decide to concentrate on our garden. No matter how big or small our garden is it must be in order. We trim the grass and water the plants. Indoors we put fresh flowers and make sure the flower vases are clean. We sweep the leaves and dispose of them – neatly of course. Our gardens must be in order too. We heard that our special guest likes plants a lot so we need to be sure that we have something simple yet attractive for Him.
The third week of Advent, we decide to concentrate on our pets. From the smallest goldfish to the biggest dog, we make sure that all is in order for them. We feed them regularly, change the water in the fishbowl, wash and groom the dogs, tidy the sleeping areas of our pets. Our pets seem just as excited by all this preparation. Of course, some of the pets are more expressive then others. We also heard that our guest likes animals. Perhaps He may even arrive riding on one, we don’t know.
For the fourth week, what else can we prepare? The house is ready, the garden is ready, the pets are ready. After all this work, we now need to prepare ourselves. We take a shower. We find our nice clothes and practice our good manners. We must know how to behave in front of our guest. We need to be polite yet warm. A warm welcome after a long journey is what He needs. He must feel this warmth as it streams from us. We are happy He is coming. And we are happy we are ready. When all is set and done, we light a small lantern, perhaps shaped like a star, and hang it in our window. This will let our guest know, our house is ready to receive Him. Yes, we can say, there is room in the inn.
With this imagination of preparation, we hope to build in each of us a picture of Advent. It is a picture of what preparation means. Our homes, our gardens, our pets, and ourselves, must shine with the brilliance of a diamond following this preparation. The preparation is as much an internal activity as it is an external one. We must realize, however, that this preparation is not just for Christmas. It is a preparation of a lifetime that will allow us to meet the future, the resurrected Christ, the resurrected human being. Advent is a model of how we may all choose to prepare whatever we do in life, both materially and spiritually.
We have four weeks. We need not rush. We plan our four weeks and feel the anticipation build as we accomplish our preparations per week. We can achieve this and make Advent a significant festival of preparation.
About the author: Raph Lazo, and his wife Lormie, have been active Waldorf parents for the longest time. Their eldest, Veronica, graduated with the pioneer MWS high school class in 2008. Their other daughter, Amanda, is in 8th grade at MWS Timberland Heights. Raph is also a steward of the Manila Waldorf School.
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