With 2015 drawing to a close, our Letter from Loring Park features stirring essays and homespun music focusing on the true importance of Advent, the celebration of Rumi, and reimagining the icons and traditions of our popular culture.
Advent is not a season for the triumphant, but the broken. An oblate-in-training on celebrating the sacred season walking and worshiping in silence with Benedictine nuns.
The ritual of lighting luminaria on Christmas Eve in New Mexico inspires this reflection on grief and waiting for the light.
Through the eyes of a young Iranian refugee in Mumbai, an Indian philosopher and educator reconnects the Christmas story to the spirit of Advent.
A dispatch from Austria as our team interview Br. David Steindl-Rast in the Alpine setting of St. Gilgen, a contemplation on the quiet character of Advent, and reminders for us to continue seeking light where we can as Hanukkah comes to a close.
Paradox runs through the season of Advent weaving together transcendence in imminence, power in vulnerability, kairos in chronos, the ultimate in the intimate. A set of homespun songs for this mysterious season of waiting.
Christmas is an extrovert; Advent is an introvert’s season. A reflection on the expectant, hopeful, solemn season of waiting.
As we enter the contemplative season of waiting, an invitation to join us in reflecting on the myriad experiences of Advent.
The Buddhist concept of the "beginner's mind" may offer a way to understand the simple meanings of the Christmas story — and "how can we love one another in ways that midwife their incarnation."
Through learning about Advent’s ancient connection to the Winter Solstice, the author rediscovers the "silky silence" of December’s darkness and the "nascent light" inside each one of us.
A letter from Einstein on the "Negro question" is rediscovered and essays on white privilege and the theology of Ferguson are complemented with ideas about opening up to hope and ourselves.
With the beginning of Advent, a theologian challenges Christians and the rest of us to wait and watch, and to walk alongside those whose hopes have been crushed — with poesy from Seamus Heaney speaking to that truth.
The season of Advent is not only a time of preparation, but one of sorrow and mourning. It's a time for reflection + remembrance of those loved ones we lost. Jay Blossom reflects on letting go of his father — and the necessity of finding the time to lament and hope for a better world ahead.
An NYPD officer's act of kindness with an Advent duet. Love from Mr. Matthew Crawley, pieces recommended for reading, and quotations from Krista Tippett. A round-up and a reminder that this joyous season be filled with acts of kindness.
A stirring pairing of piano and cello performing this classic song for the first Sunday of Advent.
With so many Christmas carols that bridge the chasm of time and space, it's a classic Spiritual that brings a "delightful burst of Christmas cheer." Listen to this rendition from Margaret Becker and Jennifer Knapp.
by Pádraig Ó Tuama, guest contributor
Advent is my kind of season.
No, not the pseudo-Advent of most Christian piety with liturgically-correct hymns and texts on the Sundays of the season and full-on Christmas hoopla all the other days, but this one: the ancient, autumnal interval of darkness and foreboding with its achy uncertainty blanketing landscapes both inner and outer. This Advent offers room for doubt and struggle. It grants permission to rest in — rather than to resolve — the tensions and paradoxes, the sometimes maddening contradictions that shape the life of discipleship.
A Christmas tree stands a month after Christmas last year. Ashley, who had recently overcame thyroid cancer, kisses her son Trey, who was undergoing treatment for tuberculosis.
(photo: Fred Erlenbusch/Flickr)
“Waiting for a Train” in Régua, Portugal (photo: Rosino/Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)
I nearly stood up my very first client on the first day of my first job in social work. Graduate school had not prepared me for the intricacies of the scheduling system at the community health center where I was working. By the time I figured things out, I was nearly half an hour late for the appointment.
A statuette of the Virgin Mary in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. (photo: Michael O’Donnell/Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)
This Advent I am reminded of the meeting Mary had with Elizabeth to announce she was with child. Though this could have been a time of anxiety for Mary, with Elizabeth it became a time of celebration. I playfully call the following account of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth the first baby shower:
A guest contributor uses poetry as a vehicle for processing his faith, doubts and depression during the Advent season.
In the late 1980’s, an unlikely series of events carried me to Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador to meet high-ranking political figures and rebel leaders. But, it was an unexpected encounter with an unknown woman in Managua during La Gritería that made the trip so memorable and changed the way I see the Advent season forever.
by Peter A. Friedrichs, guest contributor
Awaiting Tiana’s Showboat Jubilee at Disneyland. (photo: huffmans/Flickr)
Advent is a time of waiting. For Christians, it’s a time of waiting for the arrival of the Christ child. For others, Advent is a time of waiting for a hoped-for future, waiting for the time of bleakness to pass and for new joy to arrive.