Thursday, December 6, 2018

Mary and My Advent Practice: Thursday's Reflection

I've always loved choosing a book to use as my guide during Advent. Earlier this week I gathered some possibilities from my library.

              * Preparing for Christmas, Daily Meditations for 
                 Advent by Richard Rohr
              * Advent and Christmas with Thomas Merton
              * Night Vision, Searching the Shadows of Advent 
                 and Christmas by Jan L. Richardson
              * The Vigil, Keeping Watch in the Season of Christ's
                  Coming by Wendy M. Wright

I've used and loved each one of these books in the past, but I have not been able to settle into just one of them in these first days of Advent. I have been cruising, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, for I have found treasures along the way. 
                We dream that the glimpses of the fullness of 
                 love that we sense occasionally in our lives, 
                 show us what we were created to become.
                                                 Wendy M. Wright

                            Move over the face of
                            my deep,
                            my darkness,
                            my edges restless chaos,
                            and create,
                            O God;
                            trouble me,
                            comfort me,
                            stir me up,
                            and calm me,
                            but do not cease
                            to breathe
                            your Spirit into
                            my wakening soul. 
                                                   Jan L. Richardson

But then my sister Amy gave me a gift, an unexpected gift, and aren't those often the best? Amy happens to be an excellent gift giver, in part because she always gives herself. 

Tuesday she attended, along with my father, the class I led about "waiting" and she brought me a packet of cards called Advent Perspectives, Companions for the Journey created by Tracy Mooty, Janet Hagberg, and Ali Boone. Each card has a lovely illustration of a character or symbol in the Christmas story. Shepherds, Joseph, Mary, even the manger and the star. Members of my sister's church, Colonial Church in Edina, Minnesota, were randomly given one of the cards and now are invited to "live" with that companion throughout the Advent season. My sister received a shepherd card and my brother-in-law, Elizabeth, which apparently was quite a surprise for him. 

On the back of each card are questions for reflection. For example, "What are the ways you may want to grow to become a more gracious, generous host for the arrival of Jesus?" is one of the questions on the innkeeper card 

Amy knew I would love this idea, this spiritual practice, and I do. In fact, I could hardly wait for morning meditation time to come, so I could discover the identity of my Advent companion.

I sat in the silence, the stillness. I shuffled the cards, closed my eyes and let my hands drift over the cards fanned in my hand. I selected one card and opened my eyes. 


My eyes filled with tears. Why is that, I wonder? Well, I am going to ask that question in the coming days. 

Would I have had the same response if I had pulled the sheep card or one of the Wise Men? I don't know.

The Mary card now sits in front of me on my desk propped up against the Wise Woman doll I moved there a few weeks ago. Two powerful symbols of feminine energy and wisdom. 

I read the reflection questions and once again my eyes fill with tears. What is that about?
* What experience have you had with God that altered the course of your carefully made plans? How did you respond?

* How comfortable are you in being honest with God, wrestling with God, and asking questions of God?

* How do you, as Mary did, feel like God's favored one? How are you being asked to birth your special gifting of God's light and love in our world?
I whisper a promise, "I am going to immerse myself in you, Mary. I am going to listen to what you have to teach me. I invite, you, Mary, to move into my heart, to nurture new life within me. Thank you for being my companion."

And thank you, Amy, for this gift.

An Invitation
Even without having this special deck of cards, you can listen in your heart to determine which character or symbol of the Christmas story or any other sacred story resonates with you right now. You can choose to "live" with that companion for a period of time. Who might that companion be? I would love to know. You can receive Advent meditations from Colonial Church here. 

NOTE: To order your own set of these special Advent cards, email



  1. Nancy, as you shared your story of the Advent cards and the name you picked -- MARY -- my eyes also filled with tears. Like you, I asked myself “what is this about?” I recently came across the line from Luke: “Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.” I am sensing an invitation to do some pondering of my own. Thank you, Nancy, for this Advent gift.

    1. May the fruits of your "pondering" be rich and lead you to deeper, wider awareness of the movement of God within and all around. Thanks for reading the post and for your comment. Be sure to have a hanky close at hand as you continue to ponder!


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