Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Light in Darkness

Advent wreath with all four candles lit

This post isn't going to be about art (though there is plenty of that to talk about), instead it will be about an Advent experience I've been having lately.

In these past two weeks of Advent I've been doing a little ceremony in the evenings, if I'm home that night. I turn out most of the lights, light my Advent candleholder (it's not a wreath) and recite Evening Prayer out loud. Once the prayer concludes, I turn out the single remaining light and pray silently by the light of the candles for a few minutes. In this age of bright lighting, sometimes overbright lighting, it is so easy to miss the metaphor of the Advent candles. We've forgotten much about the power of darkness and the even greater power of light.

During that first week, it was pretty dark in the room, with the only light coming from a single candle. The second week, items in the room became clearer. Now, in the third week, it is easy to see objects. I expect that next week, with four candles, it will be quite possible to see very clearly. And isn't that a wonderful metaphor for "the dawn from on high" for which we pray?
John Frederick Kensett, Twilight on the Sound, Darien, Connecticut
American, 1872
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

We grow closer to the light during these weeks, as we approach the commemoration of His first coming. Then we will progress through Ordinary Time and Lent to the desolation of Good Friday, until we stand again in the dark at Easter Vigil to wait for the entrance of the paschal candle and to respond to the deacon's cry "Christ Our Light" with our own "Deo Gracias".