Do you have an Advent calendar? My colleague/friend Stacy has the kind with chocolate. I don’t have that. I’m a tiny bit jealous, mainly because Sinterklaas didn’t bring me an A-shaped hunk of dark chocolate this week (hint, hint, Mom).
I do have an Advent calendar on my shiny new smartphone. It’s an app from Caritas Australia, and even though it’s a little location-specific (to Australia), I think it has a lot of great things to offer. Every day includes a story and a few words from Scripture, a prompt for personal reflection, a prayer, and a suggestion for action. It’s also nicely designed, which is a small thing, but important to me.
I followed Busted Halo’s online Advent calendar last year, and thought it was great. I’m enjoying it this year as well—it connects some snippet of pop culture (so far this year: muppets, David Sedaris, Mindy Kaling, Lincoln) with a related “microchallenge,” some small and very doable action for the day.
I have an Advent wreath too, this year, but I forgot until the middle of this week, and I still have to find candles. It’s a really lovely ceramic piece, though, and I’m excited to use it.
Advent is a waiting period, and I think these calendars help us emphasize the anticipation of the season. I remember the excitement I felt as a child tearing open a new cardboard door to see what might be inside. Chocolate, generally, which was exciting enough—I was a kid, it was candy. I could never escape the feeling, though, that sometime it might not be chocolate behind that door (I didn’t really understand how consumer products work…or inductive reasoning). I was always attuned to the possibility that one day I might not find candy, but Something Else. Who knows what? A plastic toy? A sticker? A secret key to a hidden door to another land?
While I still imagine with abandon, I’ve lost some of this wonder and sense of possibility. Sure, I don’t know what Caritas or Broken Halo will bring out next, and the website/app are designed in such a way that I can’t peek ahead, but I know what to expect—because that’s how the design functions (and because I’ve gotten better at inductive reasoning).
What if something did come, though? I doubt a foil-wrapped chocolate is going to pop out of my phone’s screen, though that would be amazing. A surprise needn’t be so explicit, though. What about a message speaking to me more deeply and directly than I might’ve imagined? What about a spark to some sort of earth-changing action? What about the arrival of God become man, incarnate on earth?
Oh yeah, that’s the point of this season.
So one Advent practice (or something) I’m reaching toward this season is becoming reacquainted with the childlike eyes of wonder. Perhaps through these eyes I might see something I would otherwise miss.
Do you have an Advent calendar? A favorite Advent practice? How do you practice and cultivate a sense of Wonder?