Advent is just around the corner and I can’t wait to. . .wait. If you are like me, Ordinary Time felt a little less sacred than normal this year, with the election season overshadowing the liturgical calendar. Its over now but I feel anxious and icky. I pray: even so, come Lord Jesus.
Advent is the season of waiting for Jesus’ coming. We remember the hopes of the Hebrew prophets, the events leading up to Christ’s nativity. We cry for light to come and shine in our own darkness(es). While the wider culture rushes to Christmas with a consumerist frenzy, the wisdom of the Christian tradition has always said wait.
I’m a father of four, always on the hunt for resources which help my family enter into and appreciate their Christian heritage. We’ve picked up advent calendars with cheap chocolate from the grocery store and Jesus-y ones with printed manger scenes and bible verses behind each door from the Christian bookstore. Gayle Boss’s All Creation Waits: The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings was birthed as her personal family advent calendar, more than twenty years ago from a similar desire to help her kids enter into this season:
Advent, to the Church Fathers, was the right naming of the season when light and life are fading. They urged the faithful to set aside four weeks to fast, give, and pray—all ways to strip down, to let the bared soul recall what it knows beneath the fear of the dark, to know what Jesus called ” the one thing necessary” : that there is One who comes to be with us and in us, even, especially, in darkness and death. One who brings a new beginning.
This is Christian tradition at its best, moving in step with creation. When the sun’s light and heat wane, the natural world lets lushness fall away. It strips down. All energy is directed to the essentials that ensure survival. Engaging in Advent’s stripping practices—fasting, giving away, praying—we tune into the rhythms humming in the cells of all creatures living in the northern hemisphere. We tune into our own essential rhythms (introduction, xi-xii).
Boss’s eldest child was a toddler and she was pregnant with her second. She made an advent calendar for her family, not with Bible verses and scenes, but with creatures intimately aware of what it means to wait, to hope, and to long. She made a calendar that was “less about Christ’s human birth and more about the need for that birth” (xii). The animals stand in as metaphors and teachers, showing us what it means to wait.
This book is an elaboration of her family’s advent calendar (with some new creatures thrown in), published here with the beautiful illustrations of David G. Klein. There is a painted turtle, a muskrat, a black bear, birds,a porcupine, a skunk, lake trout and more. Each creature, in their own way says: The dark is not an end, but a door. This is the way the new beginning comes (xiii). The creatures walk us through Dec. 1 to 24th. Jesus, the Christ comes on Christmas Day.
The words and images of this book are simply stunning and I look forward to delving into this with the family during the coming season. Watch the book trailer below to taste and see what sort of Advent reader this is. I give it five stars.
Note: I received this book from Paraclete Press in exchange for my honest (p)review.