Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Advent Poetry Teatime Resources

Adding a poetry teatime to your week is such a lovely way to add some beauty to your week. We always like to find our favorite seasonal Holiday teas. We especially love Celestial Seasonings Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride and Sugar Plum Spice at Christmas. I baked some cranberry bread from our leftover cranberry orange relish from Thanksgiving. Score for frugality! We carried our advent wreath out to the porch to enjoy a bit of sunshine.

For our special advent tea, I checked out all the Christmas poetry books at our library to find some that included religious poetry that I liked. My favorite was The Young Oxford Book of Christmas Poetry.
I also read from A Christmas Anthology of Poetry and Painting edited by Vivian Campbell, a vintage book my husband found at a used bookstore. We have been talking about the Renaissance lately, and this volume had lots of pictures of Renaissance art.

He also bought me a copy of poet Malcolm Guite's poetry anthology Waiting on the Word. Malcolm Guite is a British vicar, poet, musician and C.S. Lewis scholar, who also happens to look and sound an awful lot like a Hobbit. In this advent devotional, he has collected a poem a day for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. He is also posting each poem on his blog during advent with a link to him reading it and artwork by Linda Richardson.
If you don't have time to track down these books, you can also find some wonderful poetry each day as part of the The Advent Project at Biola University. 

I have been loving this online advent calendar for my own personal devotions. Each day a new square pops up with a piece of artwork or video, a musical selection, a Bible reading, a piece of poetry, and a devotion. I have been sharing bits of this with the kids as well and they love it.

It was through The Advent Project on December 1 that we discovered this wonderful poem by our local, world-famous poet, and also Amherst College-alum, Richard Wilbur, called The Christmas Hymn. You can hear him read it here.

Enjoy some tea and poetry this advent!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Nativity Moss Garden

People, look east. The time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.

We are coming into one of our family's favorite seasons: advent. I did not grow up celebrating advent, but in the last few years, it has become such a special time of clearing space in our life for Jesus in the midst of the hectic holiday season. Last year, we began setting aside the four Sundays of Advent as a time to connect with friends, pray and sing advent carols, share the story of the nativity, and feast together. Occasionally, we also get inspired to craft together.

When my husband, Brent, was a boy, he would sometimes help Janet, an older woman at his church, go out in the woods and collect tufts of moss and partridge berries to make partridge berry bowl arrangements, which she would sell at their Christmas craft fair. A few years ago, he was inspired to make some to decorate our home, and collected the forest stuff at my parents' house in West Virginia. We had so much leftover that year, that we made a moss garden with a nativity in it, as well. This year, we were inspired to recreate our moss garden with the kids.
 While we were visiting my parents before Thanksgiving, we went out into the West Virginia woods and collected all kinds of interesting things, little hummocks of moss, branches with reindeer lichen, partridge berries, pine cones, and strings of ground pine. 
While we were out in the woods we stumbled upon some of the artifacts of my childhood. We discovered my special house in the woods, which my brother and I called Terabithia. This was the fire pit (for pretend fires only). We also found the old logs, slightly shifted from where they had been walls and couches, and the secret rock that marked the entrance.
We got so into collecting that we came home with a big bag of extra forest goodies. So we invited our friends to make one too.
We gathered some planters and a bag of top soil. Then we arranged our treasures on top with little stables that we bought at thrift stores and Wal-mart. We also planted some paperwhite bulbs on one side so our gardens would blossom in a few weeks.This was our friends creation. I love the draping moss effect. Once the paperwhites blossom, we hope to be able to stake them to the branches sticking up.
Here was ours:
 I love being able to combine Brent's special memories of his time with his friend in the New England woods, with my memories of my favorite play spots near my home in West Virginia, and using them to create a beautiful new memory for our kids and their friends.
Furrows, be glad. Though earth is bare,
One more seed is planted there:
Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
That in course the flower may flourish.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the rose, is on the way.