A Simple Life

My Faith in Rural Living is Restored

Every year our little town, population of 700 and something, puts up its ancient but nonetheless comforting Merry Christmas lights in front of our tiny downtown’s train tracks. Of course they go up right after Thanksgiving–which is way too early for my celebrating Advent before Christmas preference–so I just try to remember to rejoice that we actually live somewhere that keeps Christ in Christmas! In previous years I always remembered the various aging Christmas decorations around town going up at the same time, so it was much to my dismay that there was no life size Nativity scene next to our town’s quaint gazebo, which, unlike everything else around town, is of quite recent vintage. I felt really let down and considered talking to our mayor, a neighbor, about its absence.

But then, voila! As I drove home in the dark last night my eyes were drawn to it in all its lit up glory and there was great rejoicing; I actually burst out into Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” (This no doubt would have mortified or at the very least annoyed The Teen but probably amused The Husband, who has withstood my quirks for almost a quarter of a century.) Ahh, the balance of celebrating Advent in a society that begins the Christmas frenzy earlier every year was restored with this simple return of the most special family to ever live, the Holy Family.

As Bilbo says in the movie version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring,

“It is no small thing to live a simple life.”

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Ten Advents

Today is the first Monday in the first week of Advent. It also marks the tenth anniversary of having an Advent wreath and special family prayers. Individually I’ve pursued a variety of readings but have almost always spent Advent with Fr. Groeschel’s book for this liturgical season, and for very good reason, as I think as his words always seem fresh and tailored to that particular year’s needs. For example, here’s an excerpt for this day:

“I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12)

Advent must remind us of that possibility [the world with God’s grace and the promise of salvation]. I could cry when I think of all the decent people who live without hope. Christians must pray for these people, that they would experience Advent—literally the time of His coming in their own lives. [emphasis mine]

Behold, He Comes: Meditations On the Incarnation: Daily Reading from Advent to Epiphany, Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.

This year also marks a change from our traditional wreath with tapers to an antiqued bronze wrought iron votive holder (minus the glass holders or votives, of course) that I found at a thrift store. I have no idea if it was ever intended to be a wall hanging Advent candle holder but decided it went well with our first Advent minus a coffee table, as using the dining table in the past was always cramped–and besides, we eat more meals in the living room than at the dining table (not that I’m proud of that, but it is what it is…). This more stark and yet beautiful in its own unique way holder of our Advent candles reminds me once again that our Savior really did come to save the whole world–in all its diversity–and how sad it must make Him when those who’ve been given a good introduction to Him turn–or perhaps just drift–away. Thankfully, He’s always just a prayer away.

P.S. A very blessed Advent to Fr. Groeschel, R.I.P., as this year he now spends it in the best possible place!

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