This Special Time of Year December 07 2016

In our western world, there is a building feeling of celebration leading up to the winter solstice, Chanukah, Christmas, and even the Lakota Winter Count. The sun’s turning toward greater and greater strength and light gives this season a feeling of “something significant happening.” Ancient stories indicate that the “windows of heaven” are open for a time in the deep winter and heaven hovers near the earth more closely than at other times of year.

With little children, we describe what is happening in stories of the Maccabees or the birth of Christ to help them to understand that this time of year is different from other times.  There may not be an actual earthly Santa Claus who is a man in a big red suit, for example, but there certainly is a spirit of Christmas filled with generosity and kindness. Santa Claus gives us a picture of this that helps us to make sense of what might cause the change in people’s hearts at this time of year.  Why those usually gruff and hard-hearted give gifts and open their hearts.

This Special Time of Year

Here are stories in the Christian tradition that give pictures to children to understand this time of year and the need for inner quiet and an open-hearted attentiveness to pay attention to this mystical change that affects us all in winter.  Written by a Christian Community priest in France shortly after World War II, these little pictures — one for each week leading up to Christmas — are a small treasure.  We offer these in hope that they help everyone to understand the ephemeral side of life a little bit better.

L’Ange Bleu
The Blue Angel
(First Sunday of Advent)

How do we know that Christmas is coming?  You cannot see it with your eyes, because the days and nights are as they usually are, people live and go about their business in an ordinary way.  You cannot hear it with your ears because the sounds are the same noises as we always hear:  cars drive by and planes pass overhead, children play and cry out as they always do.

And yet, four weeks before Christmas something happens that is very important:  a great angel descends from heaven to invite the inhabitants of the earth to prepare for Christmas. He is dressed in a grand cloak of blue, woven of silence and peace. Most people do not notice him because they are so busy with other things.  But the angel sings in a voice profound, and only those who have an attentive heart can hear him.

He sings:  “Heaven comes to the earth, God lives in the hearts of men. Pay attention!  Open the door!”

It is on the first Sunday of Advent that the angel passes and speaks to all people.  And those who are attentive in their hearts can prepare for Christmas, and sing the song that enkindles a spark….

L’Ange Rouge
The Red Angel
(Second Sunday of Advent)
On the second Sunday of Advent, a second angel descends from heaven. He is dressed in a great mantel of red and he carries in his left hand a great basket all of gold.  This basket is empty and the angel would like very much to fill the basket so that he can carry it full to the throne of God.  But with what will he fill it? 

The basket is very fine and delicate because it is braided from rays of sunlight; one cannot put anything in that is too hard or too heavy.  The angel passes very quietly into all the houses of all the earth and he searches.

For what is he searching?  He looks into the hearts of all people to see if he can find a little love that is very pure.  And that love he takes to put in his basket…and he carries it to heaven.

And there, those who live in heaven -  the angels and also those people who lived on earth but have died – they take that love and make from it the light that lights the stars.

L’Ange Blanc
The White Angel
(Third Sunday in Advent)
On the third Sunday of Advent an angel all white and luminous descends to the earth.  He holds in his right hand a sun beam that is marvelous to see.  He goes to those in whose hearts the red Angel found true love, and he touches them with his radiant sun beam. Then that radiant light penetrates the hearts of those people and the angel fills them with light and warmth deep inside.

And these people’s eyes are illuminated by the sunlight -  it flows down to their hands, their feet, and into their whole body.  Even the poorest and the most humble among human beings are  transformed and begin to resemble the angels, if they have a drop of pure love in their hearts.

But all the world does not see the angel of white.  Only the angels see him, and those whose eyes are illuminated by that light of the angel.  Those with that light in their eyes can also see the little baby who is born on Christmas in the manger.

L’Ange Mauve
The Lavender Ange
(Fourth Sunday in Advent)
On the last Sunday before Christmas there is a great angel, draped in a violet cloak all tender and warm, who appears in heaven and hovers over all the earth. She carries in her hands a great lyre.  She plays on that lyre a music, very sweet, and she sings a song very melodic and clear.  But to be able to hear it you must have a silent and attentive heart.

She sings the great song of Peace, the song of the Infant of Christmas and of the Kingdom of God who comes to the earth.  Many little angels accompany her, and they also sing and jubilate in heaven.

Then all the seeds which sleep in the Earth are awakened, and the Earth herself listens and weaves:  the song of the angels tells each seed and the Earth that God does not forget and that one day each seed and the whole of the Earth will be made new in Paradise.