The season of Advent is quickly approaching. Make your Advent plans with Root & Vine as we explore readings, activities, and prayer meditations as we align our hearts with anticipation of Christ’s birth!
There are always a few late autumn days when the encroaching winter permits a couple last warm, dry, and sunny days, not without a pinch of chill to remind us that this heat wave is fleeting. Today, I’m writing outside, even though I stuffed away all the cushions and winterized my flower baskets. The leaves are mostly down now, except of course for the pin oak. The whole forest behind our home is tucked underneath its blanket of fallen leaves, and I join them, not in hibernation but under my own fleece knot blanket, determined to spend just a little more time outside before the freeze, just a little more time being productive outside, just a little more time soaking up a waning sun’s warmth.
Just a little more time, that’s what we all tend to long for, this season as much as any other. Now that I’m in the second half of life, that season when more things and people seem to be passing away, I’m frequently aware just how desperate and hopeful we are for just a little more time.
On the cusp of the season of advent, especially, there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day or daylight in our hours. There is always and ever so much to do! And yet around us, all of creation is hunkering down and burrowing in, stopping what they’re doing and just being.
Maybe there’s a lesson or two for us to learn from their God-given instincts.
All Creation Waits: The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings by Gayle Boss, Illustrated by David G. Klein
All Creation Waits: The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings © (2016) Paraclete Press.
I am planning to use the devotional, All Creation Waits: The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings by Gayle Boss for advent this season because as much as I love the bright lights of Christmas, there is a reason this season precedes the birth of Christ, and it isn’t all merriness. The reason for advent is deeply rooted in our ancient history. It is both a season of feasting and a season of anxiety.
Boss writes, “The early Fathers of the Christian church read the ebbing of light and life each year as a foreshadowing of the time when life as we know it will end completely… To their and our abiding fear of a dark ending the church spoke of an adventus: a coming. Faith proclaimed, When life as we know it goes, this year and at the end of all years, One comes, and comes bringing a new beginning.”
Our culture does its very best to eliminate any and all reminders that seasons end. Before a season has even begun, marketing campaigns usher in a new holiday. That way, no one can ever dwell in the in-between, grieve the end of something, or rest.
But the Christian tradition of advent holds space. It holds space for darkness, and it holds space for the hope of the coming Light.
When her children were young, Boss sought an advent calendar that captured both the fear and the hope of the advent season, a calendar that captured the spirit of the early church fathers. Instead, many of the calendars she found were really Christmas calendars. “I was looking for daily miniatures that were less about Christ’s human birth and more about the need for that birth,” writes Boss. “I wanted my little boy, opening each door, to sense that Advent is about darkness—and hope. Fear—and hope. Loss—and hope.”
Finding none that satisfied what she longed for, Boss instead created her own advent calendar for her sons. Behind each door, Boss found herself drawing creatures, each with their own lesson about the heart of Advent to teach, creatures “waiting with wisdom about living in a dark time.”
Each of Boss’ devotional entries features a verse of Scripture or quote from a wisdom teacher throughout the ages, a reflection about what we learn about existence and our relationship with God through a particular creature, and an illustration of that creature by David G. Klein.
Boss’ reflections are not at all didactic but illustrative—they do what the best teachers do, they offer in their palm a small thing and invite us closer. “Look,” they say. “Isn’t it wonderful?”
What Creation Has to Teach Us about Advent
People have turned to creation to understand more about the character of God for thousands of years.
“Creation is the earliest sacred text given to us. Like Scripture, the natural world, too, opens up an infinite universe of meaning,” writes Boss. I agree, and Paul does too, “By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being” (Romans 1:20 MSG).
During the advent season, Boss invites us to look closer at the wonders of God’s creation for the wisdom God planted there. The creatures in God’s good kingdom know they are loved. They know they are good. They show through living out their call as creatures in that kingdom ways God has wired us, too, for rest, for quiet, and for resurrection.
Boss writes, “Each in its way says: The dark is not an end, but a door. This is the way a new beginning comes.”
Journey through the advent season with Boss and 25 other creatures loved and adored by the Creator of the universe. You can find All Creation Waits online at Amazon.com, Christian Booksellers, or at your favorite independent bookstore.