Advent is one of my favorite times of the year, and as Christmas is a scant 3 days away, that also means the season of advent is drawing to a close.
As child nothing was more exciting that than the weekend I walked in to the church to see the advent wreath hanging from the wooden rafters, gently rotating in the air, made deliciously fragrant with a mixture of evergreen and incense. (I’m a Catholic gal, in case you aren’t familiar with the tradition of an Advent Wreath)
The four week “season” of Advent is meant as a time to prepare for Christmas and reflect on scripture in the Catholic faith. Usually though I end up spending Advent like many other Americans: rushing to the mall, holiday parties, baking extra goodies for family and friends, you know the drill.
And while this year I still have the baking down pat, as I spent the entire day working on these beauties.
What you see above is my annual advent labor of love in honor to my fraternal grandmother (and to my tastebuds, of course-this bread is SO incredible), the baking of Cardamom Bread. I chronicled this day long process back in 2009, so everyone could make this wonderful homemade bread.
One thing I have done more of this Advent however is reflection on my relationship with my faith. I’ve always been proud to be Catholic (although I haven’t talked much about it on the blog) and take comfort in the tradition and ritual of attending weekly mass. However, I’ve always felt like I’m not a very “spiritual” person, in spite of my deep love for my religion. As I’ve gotten older, that lack of a personal connection with God, or any higher power, has led me to some deep thought, prayer and intense conversation with many friends who are the opposite of me as they label themselves as “spiritual not religious.”
Imagine my surprise then when my most recent read, A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers, had a very strong spiritual theme. While reading this beautiful novel set in Rome after the fall of Jerusalem I was so inspired by the quiet strength the heroine Hadassah took in her relationship with the Lord. Hiding her Christianity in a wild, hedonistic city took a deep inner strength that I admired in this fictional character. While I don’t know if reading this book will have any long term effects on my personal spirituality, I found it to be the perfect “accidental Advent” read, because it did provide me plenty of opportunity to reflect on religion and it’s role in society.
I would recommend this novel to anyone, regardless of your take on religion, as it was full of beautify imagery, action, drama, betrayal and of course, love.
Love to all,
~the gal who is very appreciative of Advent, Jess