Tag Archives: Advent

Silence ~an Advent Quest ~merry and bright

Said one silly chook to the other,” Well, I did warn you that your bed of roses ideas would sink us.”

laughter in silence, silence in laughter

THEN
Daddy fell into the pond!

And everyone’s face grew merry and bright,
And Timothy danced for sheer delight.
‘Give me the camera, quick, oh quick!
He’s crawling out of the duckweed.’
Click!

Then the gardener suddenly slapped his knee,
And doubled up, shaking silently,

Daddy Fell Into the Pond by Alfred Noyes

Silence ~ an Advent Quest ~ let it be

Late afternoon, lily of the Incas, heavenly bamboo, Nana’s jardinière, memories

facing west, twilight on its way

‘The night is for stillness.
…….

It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done;
let it be.’

Evening Prayer 

from © A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa 1989 p.185

Silence ~ an Advent Quest ~ the gathering Tenebrae

Light departs, shadows, soapstone sisters

twilight on dining table, end of day

As light departs to let the earth be one with night,
Silence deepens in the mind, and thoughts grow slow;
The basket of twilight brims over with colors
Gathered from within the sacred meadows of the day
And offered like blessings to the gathering Tenebrae.

from Vespers, by John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us

Silence ~ an Advent Quest ~ a voice that is still

First Fruits, blackcurrants, my father’s favourite

Blackcurrants, my father’s favourite, the harvest begins

 

“But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand,
         And the sound of a voice that is still!”
(The flower photos underneath my plate of blackcurrants were taken by my friend and photographer, David Dobbs.)

Silence ~an Advent Quest

Silence is topical in my ecosystem*. I am reading about silence, thinking about it, seeking it, observing it,  and, sometimes, dwelling in it.

Silence, as I know it, or as I desire it,  is neither complete nor profound. It is simply stillness, calm,  and quiet, dappled with distant  bird song, the gentle ticking of a kitchen clock, and  little sighs of pleasure from a resting dog.  When I can rest fully in this silence, I am content.  But those resting periods are rare and often elusive.

With Christmas hurtling towards me  (or is it the other way round? :D), I feel a deep need  to capture more silence ; to hold it tighter as a buffer against the maelstrom of noise and nonsense which swirls in with the silly season. Yet to capture the small, transitory  silences dotted around me is hard. 

What can I do to gather in the silence?  Create a silence-catcher akin to a dream-catcher?

I read “Praying” by Mary Oliver.

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

Her words fill me with hope. There is a doorway into a wondrous silence.  There is no need to catch or harvest or grasp silence. I need only open the door, slowly and gently.

This Advent I will do just that. Silence, plentiful and peaceful,  will be my Advent quest.

Will you join me?  Each day, as part of my quest,  I  hope to post a daily image  from my place of silence. Please note the word “hope”.  🙂

December ~what does it hold for me?

As well as my images, you may also enjoy the blog posts linked below. They inspire me to think about silence.

The World According to Dina

Leaping Tracks

 

 Postscript: ecosystem*  I am amused by the current/catchword  overuse of this word. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to play with it.

I like to recycle calendars.  My friend and photographer, David Dobbs, made the featured calendar in 2017. I have added a fresh December page to the December image. I keep this calendar in my bedroom. I will eventually make a few entries on it but mostly I will leave it bare to remind me that each day is a blank canvas  to fill, or not, as I choose.    I have David’s 2018 calendar in the  kitchen.  That calendar is cluttered with appointments and reminders!

 

 

 

 

Let there be light ~Baquer Namazi

Last week, I told a friend I would add joy to my next Advent post because it has been noticeably absent from my journey towards Christmas. Well, I searched for joy ~ I really did ~ but the closest I could get to it, for this fourth Sunday in Advent, was:

‘ Let there be light, let there be understanding,
let all the nations gather, let them be face to face.

Open our lips, open our minds to ponder,
open the door of concord opening into grace.’

Let there be light

Let there be light

The quote comes from a hymn for peace,  written and composed in 1968 by two Canadians, Frances Wheeler Davis and Robert Fleming https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-let-there-be-light  It is one of my favourite hymns to sing at any time of the year but it seems particularly appropriate for this Christmas season.

May you all be blessed with some measure of peace, hope, and joy, now and always.

And, in closing……

I would like to dedicate this  post to Baquer Namazi and his family. Baquer Namazi was my husband’s colleague for many years.  He was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran.  As he is 80 years old, and in poor health,  this sentence is tantamount to life imprisonment.  Bacquer’s former employer, UNICEF, has issued several statements about his plight, all of which I endorse.

Here is one of them.

UNICEF Statement on detention of Baquer Namazi

NEW YORK, 6 September 2016 – “It has now been over six months since Baquer Namazi, a respected former employee of UNICEF, was detained in Iran. His colleagues at UNICEF, and especially those who once worked with him, are deeply concerned about his health and well-being – as we stated on 3 March. Our concern has grown ever since.

“Mr. Namazi served at UNICEF as Representative for Somalia, Kenya and Egypt, among other positions. He worked tirelessly on behalf of the children in all those positions, often in highly difficult circumstances. He deserves a peaceful retirement.

“UNICEF does not engage in politics. We hope that Mr. Namazi will be treated as the humanitarian that he is, and that a humane perspective can be brought to his plight.

“Our thoughts remain with him and all his many friends and loved ones.”

The US State Department has also issued statements, one of which can be read here. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/10/263245.htm

And President-in-waiting, Donald Trump, has, of course, issued a tweet:  “Well, Iran has done it again. Taken two of our people and asking for a fortune for their release. This doesn’t happen if I’m president!” (Note: I don’t know what fortune, Donald Trump, is talking about.)

Our family’s  thoughts and love are with Baquer Namazi and his family. We hope that humanity and justice will prevail, and that a good man will be released.

“Let there be light, let there be understanding.”

© silkannthreades

Adventures

Like many bloggers this year, I am looking at Christmas through the lens of Advent.  For me,  it  is a way to salvage some of the sweetness of the holy season, as well as a way to ease the despair which often engulfs me at this time of year.

For daily Advent reading, I am following  Kerry’s Advent My Way https://lovethosehandsathome.wordpress.com/2016/12/10/advent-my-way-10/.  My own Advent story happens each Sunday. It involves fresh flowers and a reading.

Here’s how it looks so far.

For the first Sunday in Advent, the reading was a quote from

“Into the Darkest Hour,” by Madeleine L’Engle

‘It was a time like this,
War & tumult of war,
a horror in the air.
Hungry yawned the abyss —
and yet there came the star
and the child most wonderfully there.’

First Sunday in Advent

First Sunday in Advent

The second Sunday in Advent went like this

“After Annunciation”

‘This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
There’d have been no room for the child.’
—Madeleine L’Engle

Second Sunday in Advent

Second Sunday in Advent

For this third Sunday in Advent  I chose an excerpt from “Christmas Bells”, written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow during the American Civil War.

‘  And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!” ‘http://www.potw.org/archive/potw118.html

 

Third Sunday in Advent

Third Sunday in Advent

After the second Sunday in Advent, I felt spirited enough to set up a nativity scene, and make a Christmas tree with favourite books and ornaments. I had fun.

Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree

© silkannthreades

 

 

Advent mysteries

As I make my way through Advent,

What mysteries will manifest this Advent?

What mysteries will manifest this Advent?

an unexpected, personal Advent calendar mysteriously opens up before me.

It is a calendar that comes in the form of box or drawer that daily reveals, from the depths of clutter, long forgotten wonders and joys,

like this poem I wrote, for our church magazine, not long after our arrival in New Zealand.

The Strangers’ Christmas

Dark outside is the winter sky,
a strange, foreshadowing sky
to catch the warmth
of the midnight candles,
tightly held and sheltered,
in our tent of strangers.

Dark outside is the winter sky,
a strange, foreshadowing sky
to hold the guns
of strangers standing,
as black-robed angels,
cornered to our circled light.

Dark outside is the winter sky,
a strange, foreshadowing sky
to loose the star
of the warm, sweet babe,
delivered to Mary, carefully cradled,
in the stable of strangers.

Dark outside is the winter sky,
a strange, foreshadowing sky
to gather the ages
of then and now,
and the light that is the warmth,
within the lives of strangers.

The poem is a reflection on a Christmas Eve service in Maadi, Cairo,  in the late 1990s, during a time of terrorism and tension.  I am trying to capture the peculiarity of the lovely warmth of a service celebrating the “The Prince of Peace”, yet taking place under the protection of armed soldiers and police. Like Mary, we, too, were all strangers far from home, full of joy, but also anxious about the world to come.

The service, organised by the Maadi Community Church was held in a tent attached to the St John the Baptist church in Maadi.

Both churches continue to offer fellowship, a home away from home,  and solace to strangers, to this day, and seem to be thriving.  St John’s was established in 1931. Throughout the Second World War it served troops from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Paton, Harold Gear, 1919-2010. Brigadier Kenneth MacCormick and Mrs MacCormick leaving the church after the marriage ceremony, Egypt. New Zealand. Department of Internal Affairs. War History Branch :Photographs relating to World War 1914-1918, World War 1939-1945, occupation of Japan, Korean War, and Malayan Emergency. Ref: DA-02075-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23112562

Paton, Harold Gear, 1919-2010. Brigadier Kenneth MacCormick and Mrs MacCormick leaving the church after the marriage ceremony, Egypt. New Zealand. Department of Internal Affairs. War History Branch :Photographs relating to World War 1914-1918, World War 1939-1945, occupation of Japan, Korean War, and Malayan Emergency. Ref: DA-02075-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23112562

These days St John’s (Anglican/Episcopal) serves a diverse English-speaking congregation from many different backgrounds, ( Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans and Catholics ), and provides worship space to the Maadi Community Church, and Korean, Sudanese, West African, French Reformed, Scandinavian and Egyptian congregations.

In 2006, to commemorate its 75th anniversary, St John’s commissioned artist Debra Balchen to design/make nine stained glass windows focusing on the role of Egypt in the Bible.

Windows by Debra Balchen, commissioned by St John's Church, Maadi, Cairo.

Windows by Debra Balchen, commissioned by St John’s Church, Maadi, Cairo.

I would love to see these special windows in situ. Maybe that is an Advent-ure (thanks for the word, Linda 😉 ) that awaits me.

© silkannthreades

 

 

 

 

Results

Am I returning to my blog so soon?  Sigh!  No.

I am just temporarily turning a deaf ear to the clamour of clutter

Clutter in transition

Clutter in transition

to wish you a Happy St Andrew’s Day on this first Sunday in Advent,

Flowers for St Andrew on the first Sunday of Advent

Flowers for St Andrew on the first Sunday of Advent

and to bring you the results of my  T’is the Season Giveaway, which, as promised, I drew on Thanksgiving Day.

The winners are April at  Finding Beauty in Spite of Myself  and Iris at  Wandering Iris.

April wins  How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World by Sophia Stuart; a beautiful and most suitable book for a blogger who writes about finding beauty everyday. And, Iris, who loves to travel  will hopefully be inspired to visit Hollywood (if she hasn’t been there yet) when she reads her giveaway prize, It’s In His Kiss, by Vickie Lester.

Congratulations April and Iris and thank you for your readership of my blog. Would you please send your postal addresses to me at kaahend@gmail.com ?  As it is getting close to Christmas mail rush time, I can’t promise you will receive your books before the New Year, but I will do what I can to speed them on their way. In the meantime, enjoy some of the flowers that were in my house  on the day I closed my eyes and picked your names out of a bowl.

Flowers for Thanksgiving

Flowers for Thanksgiving

Other results:

I plod on with my de-cluttering exercise. It is slow, tedious work but there are small signs of progress, like this tidy drawer,

Disorganised but definitely de-cluttered.

An odd assortment  but definitely de-cluttered.

and there is the occasional merry moment as when I uncovered a wee newspaper snippet sent by my mother, many years ago, about a Cat’s 12 Days of Christmas: ” On the 12th day of Christmas my human gave to me: 12 bags of catnip, 11 tarter pounce treats, 10 ornaments hanging, nine wads of Kleenex, eight peacock feathers, seven stolen Q-tips, six feathered balls, five milk jug rings, four munchy house plants, three running faucets, two fuzzy mousies and a hamste-e-er in a plastic ball.” Ah, mothers and cats, every bit as good as saints when it comes to encouraging us.

And, you, too, my readers are good, saintly friends and encouragers, (like St Andrew), for keeping me company on my clean-up and clean-out, and for being patient with my inability to read your blogs as much as I would like to.  Never fear; in the words of the sign in my grandparents’ incredibly cluttered wash house/outhouse,  ‘Don’t be sad, don’t be glum, better days are sure to come.”  (After all it is the Advent season. 😉 ) See you soon- ish.

 

© silkannthreades