November is here, it has brought with it the disorienting darkness of Daylight Savings Time. As a dear friend is so good to remind me each year, it’s only for a brief time – once Winter Solstice comes, we begin adding daylight back into our lives. Even with this knowledge, the darkness takes its toll. And so, this year, I am more intentional with the preparation needed to sustain my wellbeing during these increasing periods of darkness.
This is a period of Advent – while the Christian calendar dictates Advent begins in late November, this is an Advent of a more literal sense – Advent is “the coming.” While I enjoy the Christmas traditions of my youth, I have also come to understand that Advent goes back much further into ancient practices – it was celebrated in Celtic times as the coming of the light. It is no coincidence that celebration of Christmas and the Winter Solstice are so closely aligned. Both are anticipating and preparing for the coming of something significant – the light of the sun, or the Son of God. I find this connection affirming and reassuring, part of my winter soul work.
My Advent reading collection has been dusted off – it is varied, whimsical stories, devotions, prayers, and glimpses into the patterns of nature. I share it in the hope that perhaps a few of the beloved titles might help you as you navigate this time. I have already begun reading these books, realizing that as the darkness begins, my soul is in need of nourishment. If others can “rush” decorating, gift buying and watching Christmas movies, I can certainly extend my Advent preparation.
The cozy blanket of darkness is the perfect time to turn inward and get lost in another world. Two books are particularly wonderful at transporting us during this Advent season:
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis – Oh how I adore the magical world of Narnia. It is especially poignant at Christmas, as we enter Narnia during a period of a long winter. The story of Aslan’s return offers much hope in the darkness. While it is a story I first enjoyed as a child, it continues to grow in meaning and significance with each new reading. The escape into Narnia is always welcome. If you are interested in a more theological study of it, I recommend a companion for that too.
The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus, by L. Frank Baum – This whimsical story written by the author of The Wizard of Oz in 1902 takes us into an enchanted forest with wood-nymphs and fairies. It offers a glimpse into the imagined childhood of Santa Claus and how he became the legend we know and love today.
If you are looking for a more traditional Advent with Christian Theology, I have a few favorites in my collection:
Advent and Christmas – Wisdom from Henri J.M. Nouwen – anything featuring Nouwen’s wisdom speaks to my soul. He was a Dutch theologian and teacher influenced by the likes of Thomas Merton, Rembrandt, and Vincent van Gogh. He was said to have a theology of the heart. His words of encouragement and hope are especially impactful at a time of darkness and anticipation of the coming light.
Advent in Narnia – this was a newer find for my collection, so I have only read it through once, but I love the ties to C.S. Lewis’ book. Certainly not necessary to enjoy the world of Narnia, but if you are looking for a theological take on it, this is a wonderful complement.
Shadow & Light – a Journey into Advent – is a lovely collection featuring author Tsh Oxenreider’s reflections on the season with ties to art and music that help to better experience the wonder of Advent.
Perhaps my favorite Advent book though is one that helped me to better connect with nature during this season, All Creation Waits – the Advent Mystery of New Beginnings. Gayle Boss gives us a sneak into what it takes for creatures in the wild to survive the winter months. At a time when all seems to be asleep (and some is), there is also much at work in the natural world. With my new surroundings out here on the farm, I have a better appreciation for the delicate balance of life and the joy in seeing the bright red of a cardinal, or a fox darting past in the newly fallen snow.
I’d love to hear of your Advent reads and traditions. May the inner work sustain you and encourage you. These dark nights can be full of warmth and inspiration if we allow them. And may we all be hopeful for the coming light that will return. For this time though, may we sit with intention in the presence of these darker days.
If you are interested in adding these books to your collection, I have included links to them here* (or stop by your local book store):
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe https://amzn.to/3UO2OjK
The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus https://amzn.to/3En7RlL
Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Henri J.M. Nouwen https://amzn.to/3En7RlL
Advent in Narnia https://amzn.to/3GaEZ1h
Shadow & Light A Journey into Advent https://amzn.to/3EolYHo
All Creation Waits – The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings https://amzn.to/3A8l1At
I hope you find peace in the preparation this Advent.
*Any of the links in this post are affiliate links of which Tales from the Tickle Tree receives a small commission for the sale of some items, but the price remains the same for you.