It can be hard to decide how to approach the Advent season. Because we wonder if there’s a particular art to walking the road to Bethlehem. I would suggest it’s as individual as we are. For instance, I’m keen on using fresh resources each year as I love trying new things and having an alternative perspective to mull over.
Art can inspire and fire the imagination, elicit deep feelings and reveal spiritual truth in a new way. Images frequently stir me to write poetry, such as the one below, which was inspired by reflecting on William Blake’s famous Ancient of Days painting.
“The child who is waiting to be born demands a response. Blake’s The Ancient of Days shows us God’s own preparations for this birth, preparations that go back before time, back to the very heart and nature of God.” – The Art of Advent: A Painting a Day from Advent to Epiphany by Dr Jane Williams
Art and poetry combine
Ancient of Days
Surrounded by a golden halo
of light, a Gandalf beard sweeping
forward, as he stretches out his
hands, and fingers become
a skeletal compass,
a measuring stick to separate
day from night, forming the world
with intelligent design, great
wisdom and insight.
Each shaft of light is purposefully
aligned, by this eternally youthful
Ancient of Days, surrounded
and framed by rays.
His manly, muscular physique
suggesting the humanity
of Christ, the identification
he has with us
through his freely poured out blood,
the Via Dolorosa we too will walk,
the adversities borne by the weak.
This very act of reaching out speaks
of God’s compassion and grace,
his innate desire to share his love,
his aching heart for the human race.
“We need images and symbols to help us understand the mystery of God’s love for us. Incarnation’s revelation is a song to be sung, a poem to be recited, a new language to be learned by heart.” – ‘Travelling Light: Your Journey to Wholeness’ by Daniel J. O’Leary
Resources to help you
I will be sharing a poetic reflection a week here for you to enjoy during Advent. They will be based on individual works of art. And if you want permission to slow and an exhale for your soul, then Michelle DeRusha’s thoughtful Practicing Presence Audio Series (aired pre-Advent but still highly relevant) can be accessed here.
Viewing and doing Advent differently could also mean having a digital detox. So this helpful snippet from Seth Haines’ recent newsletter might just hit the spot for you:
“Allow me to offer this multi-day, six-step plan of action for freeing yourself from the digital manipulation, at least as you begin the coming Advent and Christmas season.
Step 1: Delete all social media apps from your phone.
Step 2: Delete all shopping apps from your phone.
Step 3: Find a child, a friend, or a great piece of art. Find anything tangible, anything real.
Step 4: Play with the child. Talk with the friend. Stare at the art. Spend time in the present.
Step 5: Play, talk, or stare until you’re smiling, until the consumer wants of the world become as if a memory.
Step 6: Repeat as necessary for two weeks, refusing the pull of the digital manipulations.
This week I interviewed a couple of local friends about art and made my way to a local museum to find a Rothko… it’s meant to inspire you to get out into the real world and experience something tangible.”