be monthly medicine

reclaiming december // why i am deciding to spend the next 4 weeks in a cave

29 Nov 2015

i call it my advent cave. and, yes, i am going to hibernate in it for the next 4-5 weeks. sort of until the new year begins, i guess. in here, though, i will not be just sleeping and avoiding. i will be taking back december.

in my advent cave, i am going to be embracing the dark. i am going to not be afraid to see things as they are. to explore and discover. to feel my intuition. to incubate what is hidden deep within me. i am going to wait for the hidden to be revealed. i am going to soak up the silence and truly feel that longing of the light.  i am going to let the stillness and quiet and dark simply swirl around me. and to let that light emerge slowly, intentionally, and from within.


right now it’s dark out on this early sunday morning. i’m in my living room with a few candles lit and our big white star glowing softly in the window. christmas music is streaming in the background, of course.

for christians and non-christians around the world, today marks the beginning of the season of waiting, of preparing for the coming of light. it is the first of advent. advent actually means “coming“. for christians, the waiting is for the coming of christ, of god becoming human in the person of jesus, which is celebrated by the birth of jesus on christmas eve/day.

for us all, in one way or another, religious or not, is it about waiting for hope. for light. for justice and peace.

in the united states, growing up, advent was celebrated on sundays in church, with special readings from the bible that reminded us who we are (children of god), what is wrong with the world (social injustices and inequalities that exist), and that god chooses the craziest and most unexpected people to share god’s message of love and hope: to name a few… a wild loner from the wilderness (john the baptist), an unwed teenage mother (mary, the mother of jesus), a baby refugee born in hiding in a barn (jesus), to name a few. everywhere we look in the christian story, the ones who have made the biggest impact have always been the ones we would least expect to be used.

the main way that we marked the days off until christmas was by lighting a candle on an advent wreath. we even had these wreaths at home. lighting one candle every sunday until all 4 were lit. and then on christmas day, we lit the candle in the center, symbolizing that light had come to the world.

advent is not talked about much in the states unless you go to a church, however. it truly is a christian  event. but, here in sweden, it is the exactly the opposite.

star window

in sweden, you hear about advent everywhere. of course advent is celebrated in the churches, but also some of the traditions have spilled over into secular life. i’d say that advent is much, much more known and celebrated in sweden than in the states.  in the churches, the focus, of course, is the same as it was for me growing up. but, here, advent candles (wreathes) are found in almost every home. and people hang stars or set lights/candles in their windows. uppsala, where i live, even has a fireworks display. you can hear people talking about advent just out and about throughout the whole season of waiting.

and, in sweden, it is a season of waiting. but, has a duel focus: here we wait for light to return to the world. literally. and we wait for christmas eve (the big celebration day). and while you can most definitely find the celebration of advent focusing on the birth of jesus in churches, the average person does not talk about the religious part of advent.

however, i find that ok. because, the focus is on the light.

moon

the way i see it, it’s as if the season of advent in sweden (stemming from sweden’s christian history, which is the same as the states) has been infused with it’s even deeper pagan roots creating this rich balance of the natural world and the spiritual world. something that the ancient celtics did as well.

and, it is exactly how i approach spirituality. it is undeniable that the natural world reflects exactly what some of us celebrate spiritually. there is a deep and ancient connection between advent and the winter solstice, between the waiting of light to return to the world in the person of jesus and the literal return of light to the world in nature. this is a deep, beautiful mystery. and not something to overlook, in my opinion. it is sacred, holy, and has much to teach us.

the time of advent, religious or not, allows us to let it sink in that the world is not as it should be, and that there is much that we can do no matter who we are. it gives us a time to reflect on the situations in the world today, and what is really, really important in life. and it is most definitely not power, wealth, and success. it helps us to remember that even in the darkness that permeates this world, there is still hope. and that there is work to be done. for me, it gives us a reason, an intention, a focus for this season. it gives us a chance to be aware of the stillness and silence that surrounds us.

and, i think that is exactly perfect for this time of year. we can literally see and feel the darkness in our world. and we yearn for the light. christian, pagan, hindu, buddhist, muslim, whatever. religious or not, it doesn’t matter. this time of year begs us all to slow down, to soak in the somber feelings, to face reality, and to find a way to dwell in the darkness.

advent candles

so we light one little candle after another as the weeks pass. we hang stars in our windows or put candles on our window sills. we use twinkle fairy lights all over. desperately trying to brighten up the darkness that is heavy and thick around us. intentionally hoping to raise our spirits. giving us just a tiny bit of soft light to warm us in this cold, dark world.

the advent message is this: the world is not as it should be + it is so very dark right now. but, wait. hold on. the light will return. and, in the meantime, keep vigil. keep awake. set your intentions. balance your waiting, with living in the moment.

it is so easy to want to skip right over all of this dark shit and move on to the merry christmas-ing and happy holiday-ing, though, isn’t it? but, my friends, i challenge us to not skip over it and to instead immerse ourselves in this somber part of the season. to accept and recognize that this dark time, this time of waiting, this time of uncertainty has much to give us. in fact, our lives just might become much richer and deeper if we allow ourselves to simply be exactly where we are.

coffee candle

so, here is what i propose: journey with me this advent season. let’s allow ourselves to let the spirit of this dark season permeate our souls, to help us face our shadow, both inner and global, and become better people.

let’s reclaim december. let’s live these dark, holy days with intention and quiet. with a breathless sense of waiting and longing and yearning. let’s let our spirit merge with the natural rhythms deep in the earth, recognizing that this truly is a season of waiting.

now, i am not seeking to make this a religiously focused thing. however, i am intentionally creating opportunities to slow down. to decide to turn our backs on the stress and frazzled feelings that usually come with this season, and instead, to let ourselves rest and just be. even if it is uncomfortable and dark. even if we get tired of waiting. what i want is to simply provide a place for you + me, right here on this blog, to just be. a space to just breathe for a few moments each day. and a place for us to ask tough questions, sit with the answers, and explore who we really are right now.

it will not be easy, dear friends. this i promise. we do not like the darkness. we do not like uncertainty. we do not like to feel unsettled, and the unknown.

but, throughout this season, i hope that we can gain a whole new perspective of darkness. of what darkness really is. and how even the dark times, the times of waiting, can be powerful times that push us to grow, that give us just the thrust that we need to take that next step in our own evolution as people.

window lights

are you with me, friends?

are you willing to sit with me for the next 4-ish weeks in the cave of darkness? i mean, the reality is, it is already all around us. it is our reality. will you join me in embracing that reality and exploring all that the darkness has to offer?

it sounds weird, creepy, and anti-christmas, i know. but, in truth, this is what people have done for ages, for thousands of ages. and the celebratory christmas season does not begin until the end of december anyway. if you want to be technical.

sitting in our advent caves will not take away the coziness and the beauty and magic of this season. the darkness does not do that. we will not miss out on those things that we love, like parties, gatherings, carols, cozy moments by the fireplace, holiday decorating, even shopping. but, allowing ourselves to simply accept and dwell in the darkness actually makes all of those magical moments even deeper and richer. it will make the season even more meaningful. i guarantee that.

so, what i am proposing and offering is a chance for us to journey through this advent/dark season together. to let each day, each moment be infused with spirit. and to let the heavy, dense darkness teach and guide us.

let’s reclaim december. the stillness and silence. the whispers in the dark. let’s use the darkness to rediscover that light of love that is hidden deep within each of us. we need not be afraid. the light is coming. and we will be transformed.

advent blessings to you all. xoxo

 

** just so you know, here is how this journey will work: my main posts with be on sundays, following the advent tradition. but, again, while some of the tradition is inspired by the christian season of advent, this journey is a pan-religious journey, meaning that it is spiritually-based, not focusing or using one religion over another. instead, i will be drawing from all sorts of religious traditions. and i will also use pagan traditions as well. what i am saying is that you can be an atheist, a believer in god, a worshipper of nature, or anything in-between and be a part of this journey.

there will be a theme for each week. something to focus on while we sit in our caves. throughout the week, on various days, i will also do some posts that go a bit deeper into the theme of the week. some posts will be just music, or photos, or quotes. or perhaps a guided meditation or a little story to read. it will be varied and different, allowing to tap into different ways of being. and i will make sure you know which posts are part of this advent journey.

i so hope that you will join me!


“December is a holy month. Maybe it is the dark, silky silence that descends so early that speaks to me of reverence. Maybe it is the promise that December holds — that no matter how dark, how cold, how empty it can get, the light is coming back. Something always shifts in me when December arrives — I embrace the darkness, and am eager for the coming solstice when the whole world is still and holds its breath, waiting to be reborn again.” – Meg Casey

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11 Comments

  • Reply yogaleigh 29 Nov 2015 at 21:52

    It’s funny, without thoughts of advent (I don’t really remember the Presbyterian Church making much of advent or at least I wasn’t paying enough attention to take it in), I’ve been thinking about taking a week off from blogging once this NaBloPoMo grind is over and to spend it going inward more and re-directing my energies to things other than constantly sitting with my laptop. I’d go back to blogging in a week but I can sure keep contemplating and embracing the dark.

    • Reply liz 30 Nov 2015 at 08:24

      You are creating your own little cave of being this week. How wonderful. Feels like you are tuned into the exact same vibes that I am. Blessings and peace to you. xoxo

  • Reply Mani (A New Life Wandering) 29 Nov 2015 at 23:39

    I’m intrigued.

    • Reply liz 30 Nov 2015 at 08:25

      Great! I hope that you find my posts on this inspiring and relevant in some way in your own life. 🙂

  • Reply CrumblesAndKale 30 Nov 2015 at 18:31

    Just love reading about these Swedish traditions seen from an other view, you explain our traditions so nicely. Its always about the light here in Sweden, or, the lack of it. Thank you!

    • Reply Liz 1 Dec 2015 at 09:31

      That is so great to hear from a Swede!! Thank you so much for commenting.

  • Reply Sunita 30 Nov 2015 at 21:04

    beautiful pictures and beautiful words! i think the way you spend your december, is the way it should be spend. this is exactly why i love winter so much <3 when i was younger I celebrated advent with my parents. we lit candles and ate christmas cookies and sang or talked. I grew up in Germany where, like in Sweden, this is a common thing. But I haven't lived with my parents for 6 years, and so I don't celebrate advent anymore. I do miss it somehow but it's so far away from my life that I only realized right now when I read your blog that yesterday was the 1st advent. here in my apartment i only have 1 candle and 1 DYI wooden angel who looks like a badass rebell angel 🙂 but my grandma just called and told me that she's sending me and my boyfriend a winter package with candies and nuts and vitamins and maybe even some Christmas decoration, so soon our home will be a bit more christmassy!
    have a wonderful winter time and enjoy your cave! <3

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