Tag Archives: Time

Advent is a season of preparation

Not only do I now own a church, I own a church sign. In the first days of clean-up and demolition, my Beloved found the box of letters to create a new message in the sign so I did what I do best and that’s write.

church sign advent

Today, if you didn’t already know it, is the first Sunday in Advent, and I was inordinately pleased with myself to post this message. Its meaning applies literally to the church season and to the process of cleaning up corners and tearing down walls inside our 119-year-old Methodist church as step one in our renovation project.

In homage to the season (and the double message with new meaning for me this year), I’m reprinting this post from the Minnesota Transplant archive, publishing originally a year ago.

Glory be

While the secular world recovered from a Thanksgiving dinner-induced food coma and then leapt loopily into Black Friday-Small Business Saturday-Cyber Monday (which for many overeager online retailers began on Friday), Christians rang in a new year.

Today is the first Sunday of the liturgical year which is to say the First Sunday in Advent.

Advent is the run-up to Christmas, a liminal season of expectation. But to describe it only as a time of waiting sells Advent short, just as the days between Thanksgiving and Dec. 25 are more than simply an out-of-breath sprint to be endured.

For me, it’s not this time of year without spending some time in church. Sitting (and standing and singing and praying) through a worship service slows down time.

This is not a post about why you should go to church. That’s your call. This is a post about why I go to church. For me, Advent is the best time of year to spend some time in church, to be observant to the reason for the season. Christmas is all crowds and gifts and traditional-in-the-extreme music (let’s just say I’m not a fan of “Silent Night, Holy Night”). Lent, too, is a run-up season, preparing Christians for Easter, but Lent and Easter are solemn. The messages are heavy on crucifixion and death (yes, and rising again, I know, but rising from the tomb).

Advent, though, is news about pregnancy and babies and angels and birthdays. (That Advent also coincides with the countdown to my own birthday is just happy coincidence.)

I went to Catholic Mass last night for the first time in years, maybe even a decade. It was a beautiful quiet service in an enormous church where hundreds of people were doing the same thing I was — celebrating the new church year. I was reminded how lovely is the ritual of Mass, so familiar and universal.

I was once Catholic, but when I got divorced, I reverted to my origin religion, Lutheran. A week ago, I read the scripture lessons for the last time at the Lutheran church where I am a member. I resigned my position as reader in anticipation of moving away. Coincidentally, it was also the last Sunday of the church year.

Serendipity.

I kind of felt like I was throwing off the bonds of responsibility and the old year and the old way of worshiping all at once. Celebrating the new Christian year for me meant Mass in a big, beautiful church. Which is how I found myself last night in church I’d never been in before soaking up Bible readings about waiting and preparation and expectation.

It is the perfect message on which to meditate for a woman waiting (and waiting) to sell her house.

Advent is not an empty time, I was reminded. It is a season of fullness. Because preparing is just as meaningful as celebrating. Anticipation should be as joy-filled as the hullabaloo for which we’re waiting.

Pondering Advent and the imminent celebration of the birth of Christ, I was reminded of a scene I appreciated earlier this year.

nativity-facade

This is the Nativity Façade at the Sagrada Familia, aka the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family in Barcelona, Spain. The church was designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. The structure is so elaborate, it has been under construction since 1882 and remains incomplete. This is the entryway to the church, and I snapped this picture when I had the opportunity to tour it in June. As you might expect, the Nativity Façade is dedicated to the birth of Jesus.

A single figure is itself a fantastic sculpture, and here there are hundreds of them. But let’s look at the central point of interest there, right above the two doorways of entry.

nativity

You can see Jesus surrounded by his mother Mary and Joseph. Check out those two faces peeking around the corners — an oxen and a donkey. Kind of cute, if you ask me. Carved into stone above Joseph’s head are the words “Gloria in excelsis Deo” (you can read Deo clearly in this closeup). That’s Latin for “Glory to God in the highest.”

This sculptured wall is the entryway to the church (inside is entirely amazing experience in itself). But before you even get inside to see it (and, presumably, participate in Mass), this enormous highly detailed art greets you. You could spend days gazing at each sculpture, taking in the meaning, and you’re still outside the building.

That’s Advent. Days of detail, building up to the threshold of Christmas.

Don’t wish it away. Soak it in.

# # #

If you’re interested in more from Minnesota Wonderer/Minnesota Transplant, don’t miss my new blog about renovating the 119-year-old church. Start reading here at ChurchSweetHome.com.

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Glory be

While the secular world recovered from a Thanksgiving dinner-induced food coma and then leapt loopily into Black Friday-Small Business Saturday-Cyber Monday (which for many overeager online retailers began on Friday), Christians rang in a new year.

Today is the first Sunday of the liturgical year which is to say the First Sunday in Advent.

Advent is the run-up to Christmas, a liminal season of expectation. But to describe it only as a time of waiting sells Advent short, just as the days between Thanksgiving and Dec. 25 are more than simply an out-of-breath sprint to be endured.

For me, it’s not this time of year without spending some time in church. Sitting (and standing and singing and praying) through a worship service slows down time.

This is not a post about why you should go to church. That’s your call. This is a post about why I go to church. For me, Advent is the best time of year to spend some time in church, to be observant to the reason for the season. Christmas is all crowds and traditional-in-the-extreme music (let’s just say I’m not a fan of “Silent Night, Holy Night”). Lent, too, is a run-up season, preparing Christians for Easter, but Lent and Easter are solemn. The messages are heavy on crucifixion and death (yes, and rising again, I know, but rising from the tomb).

Advent, though, is news about pregnancy and babies and angels and birthdays. (That Advent also coincides with the countdown to my own birthday is just happy coincidence.)

I went to Mass last night for the first time in years, maybe even a decade. It was a beautiful quiet service in an enormous church where hundreds of people were doing the same thing I was — celebrating the new church year. I was reminded how lovely is the ritual of Mass, so familiar and universal.

I was once Catholic, but when I got divorced, I reverted to my origin religion, Lutheran. A week ago, I read the scripture lessons for the last time at the Lutheran church where I am a member. I resigned my position as reader in anticipation of moving away. Coincidentally, it was also the last Sunday of the church year.

Serendipity.

I kind of felt like I was throwing off the bonds of responsibility and the old year and the old way of worshiping all at once. Celebrating the new Christian year for me meant Mass in a big, beautiful church. Which is how I found myself last night in church I’d never been in before soaking up Bible readings about waiting and preparation and expectation.

It is the perfect message on which to meditate for a woman waiting (and waiting) to sell her house.

Advent is not an empty time, I was reminded. It is a season of fullness. Because preparing is just as meaningful as celebrating. Anticipation should be as joy-filled as the hullabaloo for which we’re waiting.

Pondering Advent and the imminent celebration of the birth of Christ, I was reminded of a scene I appreciated earlier this year.

nativity-facade

This is the Nativity Façade at the Sagrada Familia, aka the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family in Barcelona, Spain. The church was designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. The structure is so elaborate, it has been under construction since 1882 and remains incomplete. This is the entryway to the church, and I snapped this picture when I had the opportunity to tour it in June. As you might expect, the Nativity Façade is dedicated to the birth of Jesus.

A single figure is itself a fantastic sculpture, and here there are hundreds of them. But let’s look at the central point of interest there, right above the two doorways of entry.

nativity

You can see Jesus surrounded by his mother Mary and Joseph. Check out those two faces peeking around the corners — an oxen and a donkey. Kind of cute, if you ask me. Carved into stone above Joseph’s head are the words “Gloria in excelsis Deo” (you can read Deo clearly in this closeup). That’s Latin for “Glory to God in the highest.”

This sculptured wall is the entryway to the church (inside is entirely amazing experience in itself). But before you even get inside to see it (and, presumably, participate in Mass), this enormous highly detailed art greets you. You could spend days gazing at each sculpture, taking in the meaning, and you’re still outside the building.

That’s Advent. Days of detail, building up to the threshold of Christmas.

Don’t wish it away. Soak it in.

A way to keep track of time and a way to savor it

I bought a 2015 wall calendar today.

What’s up with that? It’s practically April!

I know, crazy, right?

Amazon was selling some of its 2015 calendars at full price (as ridiculous as shopping for a calendar three months after the year begins). But I found a discounted one I liked which had nice big numbers for each day (we’re as old as we’re slow around here). Besides being affordable and readable, it evokes thoughts of happy hour.

With images of wine.

Lone and level sands

As I wrote a check today, the gravity of “2015” dawned on me.

We’re halfway through the decade.

And not only that, we’re halfway through the second decade of this century.

When I watched the preshow for the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special last night, one of the participants (I don’t remember who) mentioned he’d never lived in a world without Saturday Night Live.

Sigh.

I have.

I was born into a world where men hadn’t even walked on the moon (and where Star Trek was a television show not a cultural phenomenon). Where phones had cords. Where girlfriends could sit in the middle of the bench seat in a pick-up truck, her boyfriend’s arm draped across her shoulders.

It’s not just that I’m feeling old (I am), but I’m feeling fleeting. Like sand on a windy day, blowing in the wind.

The Roman Empire lasted 500 years — 10 lifetimes in a those times. I’m sure it seemed to its inhabitants to be capable of existing forever.

Yet it didn’t.

Reading about Henry Flagler’s Key West Railroad (book review here) probably didn’t help. The guy sunk $30 million dollars into its construction, and it blew away a quarter century after he died. To preface his book, author Les Standiford used this quote from a Percy Bysshe Shelley poem about Ozymandias who was, perhaps, an Egyptian pharaoh:

And on the pedestal, these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look at my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains, Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Welcome, February, with hearts and chocolates

The year just began, and then I realized this morning: It’s February 1.

Wow. With all the complaining I was doing about the winter weather and the horrors of the third week in January, I didn’t realize 31 days zoomed by. I’m grateful, I have to say. I don’t mean to wish away time, but honestly, thank God that’s behind us.

I quick look in the archive reveals I’ve felt this way before … two years ago, as a matter of fact, when the weather was, apparently, not so terrible. Enjoy the reblog from 2012:

Boom, the curtain falls on January

As if with a swoosh of a paint brush, January is gone.

Read more of this post

Midnight moment

Today is the last day in June. Tomorrow begins the second half of 2013.

I’m still shaking my head that it’s three years into the second decade of the new millennium. I just was swatting Y2K bugs yesterday it seems. And here it is, June 30. Time to flip the calendar again.

It’s midnight time, the moment between first and last — first half of the year and last half of the year. I’ve written about this time before. I avoid the confusion of 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. whenever possible and aim to say noon and midnight instead. But midnight remains problematic. When it’s midnight, it is still today? Or is it tomorrow?

The book and movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” alludes to this dilemma of straddling two places or neither one, in the case of the garden, the place of good and the place of evil.

So now is like that. It’s a hinge, a place in the middle, a changing room … it’s midnight.

Midnight moments call for faith. I am reminded of the scene in “Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade” where Indy steps off the cliff into nothingness. He lands on a walkway that was there the whole time, he just couldn’t see it.

Faith is walking up to the edge of a cliff and stepping off knowing that one of two things will happen: A bridge will form beneath our feet, or we will learn to fly.

A hazy shade of winter

Sometimes, when I’m running really fast on the treadmill (“really fast” being relative), I pass the time by thinking of the 5-second fractions.

Five seconds is 1/12, 10 seconds is 1/6, 15 seconds is 1/4, 20 seconds is 1/3, etc. Pretty soon, the minute is gone, and I can return to a jog or better yet, a walk.

Today is like that, only I’m not wishing for the 11/12th fraction, I’m staring at it unbelievingly. As the second hand swings past midnight, the year is 11/12ths behind us.

Whew. I feel like Wile E. Coyote standing still in a Road Runner cartoon.

Shame on me for wishing away the seconds.

Time, time, time,
See what’s become of me.
While I looked around
For my possibilities.

~ Paul Simon