November 30th marked the first day of Advent. Not a day pagans or Buddhist or Unitarian Universalists usually pay much attention too. But for several years now I have used several resources to help me put together rituals that celebrate the hope, joy, peace, and love that this time of year inspires. In the past we have done a simple rite of lighting a candle and adding a stone to the bowl while reciting one line of what the candle stands for that week. This year we are trying something new. We are going to create an Advent spiral by marking each day by gluing a new stone that represents the four elements/correspondences each day and light a candle only on the Sundays that lead up to the 21st, which is the day we celebrate the Solstice. So, we stopped for a few moments last night and glued one stone to our wood circle and lit our little candle. We recited this lovely Advent verse:
The first light of Advent is the light of stones.
Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones.
The second light of Advent is the light of plants.
Roots, stem, leaf, flower and fruit by whom we live and grow.
The third light of Advent is the light of beasts.
Animals of farm, field, forest, air and sea.
All await the birth in greatest and in least.
The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind.
The light of love, the light of thought, to give and to understand.
Afterwards, I asked the boys to reflect on how our earth has changed within this season and how much we depend on the fruits of the earth and how much our earth depends on our care for it. I asked them to come up with a way that they could help the earth in a practical way and to share their idea with us tomorrow night. We then sang “Let there be peace on earth”.
The first of December we glued a new stone down. After reciting the verse and singing “Let there Be Peace on Earth”, I asked the boys to share their thoughts on the reflection from the night before. What would they do to care for our earth? This follows our principle of “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”