|Photo--Tom ('Mas) Pickering via Flickr; used under Creative Commons License|
2. My image of Advent is a candle on a windowsill--waiting, watching, hoping, prepared, for the One who will come in the dark night. There's also a sense of safety, warmth, and coziness that I think is born of my memories of coming home on wintry Michigan afternoons, cold and possibly wet, from the walk home from the bus stop, the light from the stars we hung in our windows casting a soft golden glow of invitation, guiding me home.
3. My most poignant memories of Advent are of the year I was expecting my son. He was due January 2, and so that Advent and Christmas I felt especially close to Mary, experiencing that last month of pregnancy before the birth. All those Braxton-Hicks contractions, the sensation of waddling more than walking (I should mention that I am 5'5", and my son weighed 9 pounds 15 ounces at birth, and was 23 inches long....), the collecting of baby needs at the same time we were Christmas shopping... Setting up the crib and the Christmas tree at the same time...
4. I've been on a bit of a journey the last few years, and this year I feel settled enough emotionally and literally that I want to do my usual Advent baking/cooking (several kinds of Christmas cookies, hot spiced wine, eggnog, etc.). But my apartment kitchen is so small and has so little counter space that cookies have to cool on my desk and the top of the microwave. This makes it difficult to bake much. Still, a batch or two here and there--I will do my best this year.
5. Advent really means "coming to"--Christ "coming to" us. But we can also see it as us "coming to" awareness of Christ--in the world, in each other, in ourselves. Christ is born in many ways, only one of which is a manger.