My holidays were packed – even the Advent candle lighting each week felt a bit too squeezed in between other parts of our Sunday service.
The weekly observance of Advent is a favorite part of the Christmas season for me. I’ve written about it before and that posting is still available in the archives. I love the way Advent can help us feel for different aspects of the Christmas story and bring out layers of truth behind each one. But this year I was really reaching for ways to feel the Christmas joy I knew was hiding among all the myriad outward activities.
So I tried to make Advent personal. As we expand our viewpoint and get out of our little view of the world it is also important to bring big spiritual truths down into our daily reality and make them our own. Yoga is really the path of lofty spiritual concepts made practical.
I found new depth of meaning in Christmas as each Advent topic became my focus and inspiration. I thought you might find this approach helpful as well – it’s never too late to light the candles of Advent in our hearts and minds.
In our Ananda Advent, the first candle represents the Promise. The promise that God will come to us when virtue declines and vice predominates (as the Bhagavad Gita says) is eternal. Christ and the other masters come as living manifestations of that promise.
For me, this tells me to relax and surrender into the inevitability of divine law. I don’t have to measure up, be perfect, or get everything right first – God comes even when darkness seems to be winning. If I turn toward the divine for answers, answers will come.
The second candle is for Love. The divine promise is to respond to our call – love opens the door to let the divine in. I ask myself: If I pray for more of God’s presence in my life, what am I doing to open the door and let it in? I realize that every act of love, however small or seemingly insignificant, is an opening for the Presence I yearn for.
The third candle represents Joy – the actual experience of God within. The saints show us that joy is possible in every circumstance but I find myself getting discouraged because I don’t experience that joy all the time. I’m just not there yet. Rather than fight discouragement, I tell myself: Wouldn’t it be better to find where joy comes easier and do more of that? The more we experience joy, the more we will learn to be in joy through all of life’s challenges. So I resolve to sing more, laugh more, serve more, give more – because that is where I feel joy.
The fourth candle is for Light. Having recently become an Ananda light bearer, this seems to be an immediate and personal challenge for me – to carry light into every circumstance and every encounter. I don’t actually see auras around people but I affirm, with strong determination, that I see divine light shining through every person I am with and I try to respond with the light of my guru in return.
Advent means “to come”. I encourage you to light the four candles of divine promise, love, joy, and light and see what comes.
May your new year be filled with light,