My friend Elizabeth and I have been texting back and forth. We both love Advent, and we’re always looking for new-old ways to celebrate with our families. What have you written on Advent? we ask each other. What books have you found? We go back and forth, trying out this or that.
So I was excited when Paraclete Press announced a new book of Advent readings called All Creation Waits: The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings. I was even more intrigued when I read this: “Short, daily reflections that paint vivid, poetic images of familiar animals…Anyone who does not want to be caught, again, in the consumer hype of “the holiday season” but rather to be taken up into the eternal truth the natural world reveals will welcome this book.” (From Paraclete’s Description)
This book is right on time. I was honored to have a chance to chat with the author, Gayle Boss, who was willing to answer a few questions for us. Take a moment to get to know Gayle and her vision for All Creation Waits…and then enter to win a copy below!
Thanks for taking some time to hang out with us, Gayle! Would you begin by telling us a bit about yourself?
Thanks Catherine! Sure – I grew up in northern Michigan on the shores of Lake Michigan. Sunday afternoons my father often had us out walking the woods, picking berries and mushrooms in their seasons and simply breathing in the beauty. After college I spent 15 years in the inner city of Washington, DC, a time of robust spiritual formation at the Church of the Saviour. I also grew tremendously as a writer in a writers’ group there. When we began having children, my husband and I wanted to return to West Michigan to raise them in our home landscape and in the company of our families. In the 22 years we’ve been in Grand Rapids I’ve raised my two sons and worked, for love and for money, as a writer. I’ve also tried to cultivate healthy inward/outward rhythms.
The seed for the book was planted 22 years ago when I wanted an Advent calendar for my four-year-old son. The ones I found in stores featured either candy canes or manger scenes behind the little cut-out doors. They were Christmas calendars, not Advent calendars. From earlier research in church history I knew that Advent has its roots in the earth and its seasons. Advent practices in the early church urged believers to take their cues from the natural world. When light fades and temperatures drop, nature strips down to essentials. The church urged the faithful too to strip down, to wait, and to discover in the dark that One comes to us to give us everything we need to survive our darkest season.
So I had no choice but to make my own Advent calendar. I drew animals behind the cut-out doors, and to accompany the calendar I made a little booklet that told a bit about how each animal waits in the dark and cold and trusts. All Creation Waits is an elaboration of that Advent calendar for adults. I want us to see that our animal sisters and brothers can show us the truth that’s at the heart of Advent and of the gospel: The dark is not an end, but a door, the way a new beginning comes.
I love that…”the dark is not an end, but a door…” That’s what I love about Advent too.
What is your favorite part of Advent?
Since I learned about the roots of Advent and early practices of the church in the season (fasting, praying, giving away), which were meant to mimic nature, we have tried at our house to live Advent, and not a Christmas countdown. We put up no decorations except for an Advent wreath and four candles. We sing no carols except for “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” each night around the lit wreath. We wait to decorate the tree until Christmas eve. And we notice the dark and how it makes us feel. Yes, sometimes anxious! We try to stay quiet and wait. I love sitting at the window watching dark come down in the late afternoon, being still. Believe it or not, my sons liked it too, all the while they were growing up. We had the Advent calendar and its animal stories. We had a Jesse Tree and the Biblical stories of waiting. And then, when Christmas came, we had 12 days of Christmas!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers (and your readers)?
I guess I want us to realize that we don’t have to be trapped by a culture that wants us to move faster during Advent than any other season. We can choose the Church’s oldest traditions, rooted in the earth and her rhythms (which are also our body’s rhythms). We can pare life back to essentials, and wait and discover in the dark that at our core we are given all we need. We are given One among and within us who always brings a new beginning.
I’m excited to be giving away not one but TWO copies of All Creation Waits: The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings. Because I want you to have your copy by Advent (or close to it!) so I’ll close this Giveaway on November 26, 2017.
Here are a few ways to enter:
3. Share this Giveaway on any of your social media (but tag me, so I can see it!)
Let’s spread the word about this lovely Advent book!