I love the outer preparations for Advent that start when I put out my nativity set. Most of my Christmas paraphanelia was put away by Epiphany but I left the Nativity Scene where it was. It sits on the top of the enterainment centre - a picture of Jesus above it, a luxurious plant on one side and a trio of candle holders at the other end. The wise men, Mary, Jesus and Joseph, a shepherd boy, a few sheep and a donkey gather there with tea lights interwoven among them. The sheep sit on rocks with their ears cocked to the midst of the scene as if they are listening for what the Christ child has to say to them. Smaller rocks are scattered throughout. I have one rock, the size of an almond, that is broken in four pieces. It is a continual reminder that we are broken people in search of healing.
Often I sit in the dark with only the tea lights illuminating the room. It helps me focus on the inner work that begins with Advent and continues throughout the Church calendar. This year, like years past, one of my kids found my angel of prayer figurine and sometime during the holidays placed it at the feet of Mary who is holding the Christ Child in her arms. The other day I noticed that someone had also turned one of the wisemen so that his back is to the whole scene. At first it irked me. As much as I have grown to be okay with the lack of symmetry to life there is still something comforting about it. But the longer I pondered on this wise man with his back to the Christ Child the more I was okay with it. Between the angel of prayer kneeling at Christ's feet, the broken rock, and the wise man with his back turned I figured this encompasses the whole spiritual journey. And the longer I journey the more at home I get with the tension that has our wholeness and brokenness inhabiting the same space.