Sunday, December 4, 2011

Advent Art Projects in an Ecumenical Hue

You may remember that I had plans for a tropical Advent wreath; I wrote about it in this blog post.  I thought about adding additional tropical elements each week.

I've abandoned that plan.  The palm branches have really dried out, which pleases me symbolically (Advent proceeding to Palm Sunday, albeit rather quickly).

I have an Advent calendar idea percolating in my head.  My friends and I spent a week exchanging Advent calendar memories; My German friend thought the Advent calendar an obscure, mostly dead German custom, but she was floored to learn how many of us had spent our childhood Decembers opening those little doors.  And we grew up to have a wide diversity of spiritual beliefs (Wiccan, Lutheran, atheist)--could I create some sort of project that speaks to that?  I'll continue to think.

In the meantime, for your Advent creative pleasure, I offer decorated cookies.  Head to this blog post to see pictures and/or to follow up on this post, where I first talked about my atheist friend who found herself yearning for Advent.

Yesterday's event was much more ecumenical than I'd ever dreamed of, back in my much younger years, when ecumenical outreach meant a youth gathering with Baptists or Catholics.  I'm a Lutheran, and yesterday I celebrated Advent with a Wiccan, a Hindu, a Jew, an atheist, and a woman of indeterminate spiritual outlook.  Our group used to have a Charismatic Catholic, but she moved.

It continues to fascinate me to compare stories of childhood and how different holidays were observed.  Long ago, I assumed that most holidays would be celebrated across cultures with cookies or some sort of sweet.  How strange to learn that is not so.  No dreidel cookies?  Really?

It's fascinating too, to learn where spiritual beliefs and scientific beliefs and children dovetail and then depart.  My atheist friend grew up in a Catholic household in the 1950's, so her religious memories are very different than mine, much more negative.  I grew up in the Jesus soaked 1970's--my views are different.  My dad, a computer scientist, was a devoted Lutheran.  My Wiccan friend is the daughter of scientists, but her spiritual trajectory is different than mine.

We can all come together over cookies, even for those of us, like my Hindu friend and my Jewish friend, who didn't have cookies as a part of their childhood memories.  It's not a surprising finding, to be sure.  Jesus showed us the way originally:  if you want to form community, begin to do so at a table that has food and drink.  It worked over 2000 years ago, and it worked yesterday.


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