Advent is a season that speaks softly to me, encouraging me to listen, observe, and reflect in quietness. My daily ritual is to light a candle in the darkness of each Advent morning, read aloud a poem or quotation, then sit quietly.
From November 28-December 24 , I will share a piece of writing that I have collected or written, which resonates with my own spiritual journey at this time of year. I hope that their words may be resources for your Advent practices. If you have Advent rituals and/or writing to add, I encourage you to leave them in the comments section for the rest of us to read.
Peace in this time of waiting and discovery.

Friday, December 24, 2010


May the Light of lovingkindness
fill you and the world
with peace.

Thank you for joining me during this season of Advent.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Advent of Love

The Advent of Love
©2010 Twylla Alexander

Love came down at Christmas,”
as the old hymn goes.
“Love all lovely, love divine. 
Love was born at Christmas.
Stars and angels gave the sign.”

Where was Love before?

It surely was not absent from the world.
Husbands must have loved wives
and wives their husbands;
Children their mothers and fathers;
Parents their girls and boys.

Was there not love of

What was so special
about this Love,
prompting stars and angels
to take notice,
glories to be sung and presents given?

This Love understood
the world’s understanding
of love, yet offered more.

She knew her words would be
shouted down, ridiculed,
misunderstood, dismissed,
and labeled

As hers was the Love for the
disabled, diseased, displaced, disfigured,
deemed different from the rest;
For neighbor as for self,
For the enemy.

In her hand, she held the gift of peace
and placed it tenderly
upon the heart of a child,
swaddled in cloth.

And upon the heart of
each child born
from that day forward.

“Love shall be our token,”
 as the old hymn ends.
“Love shall be yours and love be mine.
Love to God and to alll men.
Love for plea and gift and sign.”

"Love Came Down at Christmas,"  Christina Rossetti, 1885

                              Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh - public domain image

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Be still.

Be still and know.

Be still and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10

  Photo taken in Pokrovskoye-Streshnevo Park -- Moscow, Russia
 Twylla Alexander

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice by Maria Hodkins*

by Maria Hodkins*

I notice more than anything
how dear the light is
in these December days
and nights…

Like an infant’s face
that first light in the morning
full of promise.
A rosy-cheeked dawn,
waking me with its insistent cry.
Life! A new birth–
The light shatters the seduction of dream
“Come, I will light the Way.”

From the dark shroud of sleep
I leap,
throwing back the drape,
scooping the light into my face.
I turn the plants
to gulp their sky chai
and straighten their pose
for they have been praying, hoping.
leaning into the light, in spite of its leaving.

Arctic blues, powder, smoke, and wisps of white
dress you, sky, in Day’s gown and cape
cold taffeta attending the Earth ball,
my eyes squint in your harsh winter light
and I wait, wait for the warm return
a sun, now so far, so cold
like the heart of a lost lover.

Light of sunset, breathtaking sky
hues too deep for words
dazzling sherbet of periwinkle and peach
Delightful, Trickster, Magician
I bow to your light gifts
luminous mystery
where light hides in the shadows
and halos mountain peaks

And when the night moves in like lava flow
over the land…
The houses sing furious light carols
bright, white, glaring carols
red, green twinkling carols
desperately holding light space for the sun,
everybody’s darling.

Come back, Sun, come home–we miss you!
How dear the light
how I crave the light, drink the light,
lift my glass to the light,
oh Holy light
through this longest night,
you soothe my soul.
*printed with permisssion 

Monday, December 20, 2010


by W. H. Smaw
(selected lines)*

I am. I was. I will be.
I am not coming soon I am here.

*(click for complete poem)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Advent's Fourth Candle - A Cinquain

candles of
Hope, Peace, Joy
flourish when joined by

©2010 Twylla Alexander

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sunset Surprise

Radiant reds, pinks
Fill the sky as we ski home.
Wake up! grateful heart

Haiku © 2010 Mary Toland
Printed with permission

                                        Photo by Randy Lincks


Friday, December 17, 2010

Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem

 by Maya Angelou
(selected lines)

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.

(click for complete poem)

Graphic by Monny's

Thursday, December 16, 2010

There is a Place Beyond Ambition

When the flute players
couldn’t think of what to say next
they laid down their pipes,
then they lay down themselves
beside the river
and just listened.
Some of them, after awhile,
jumped up
and disappeared back inside the busy town.
But the rest —
so quiet, not even thoughtful —
are still there,
still listening.

by Mary Oliver
published in Red Bird, Beacon Press
                                              Photo by Stephane Therrien

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Light Within

 ©2010 Twylla Alexander

The flame awakens to the familiar touch,
stretches, breathes, quietens.
The woman sits nearby
with her book,
open to Advent writings.

she does not read.

She stares
into her companion’s face;
Its thoughts
held in shadow.

“Dear Flame, you hear the words I repeat,
the prayers,
the Promise given
year after year.
Yet I remain the same,
waiting to be changed.

Have you no wisdom for me?”

She bows her head.

Needles scratch a frosted pane.
Chill slips through tired cracks
as a rude wind pushes past.
Ticks follow tocks,
in perfect step.
in perfect step.

The flame leans forward.

“That for which you wait is
within you, and in all.”

She lifts her head,
takes in
the Light. 

                                             Photo by Twylla Alexander

Note:  The next posting will be on December 16.  I will be in route from Russia to the U.S. on the 15th.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Praise for an Ordinary Day

December snow settles
on spruce and hemlock,
swollen flakes forming
a heavy mantle.

Pliant shoulders bend,
quietly accepting
layer upon layer,
draped in astonishing beauty.

We are connected,
my woodland companions and I,
arrayed in our accumulated burdens,
stronger than we know.

Later, a wash of rain
dissolves winter’s finery,
elegant boughs,
now plain.

I mourn
such fleeting splendor
until my searching heart
once again sees.

Assembled in joyous profusion,
a vibrant, green sisterhood
the place where I live.

And thrust into the pallid sky,
a riot of evergreen arms
this ordinary day.

©2010 Diane DeSloover
Juneau, Alaska
(printed with permission)

                                                 "Virgin Alaska Forest"
                                                 Photo by Ken Graham

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Third Candle

 Liturgy adapted from United Methodist Church of Chugiak, Alaska

 The first candle reminded us of hope. The second candle reminded us 
of peace. The third Advent candle is the candle of joy

May the light of hope, peace and joy burn brightly in 
our hearts all our days. 

Dear God, in the height of our Advent walk, 
grant us the courage to experience joy. 
Joy in the face of apathy, 
Joy in the face of sorrow, 
Joy in the face of uncertainty. Amen.
(Katherine Hawker)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday Morning, 10 AM

by Jan Richardson
The Advent Door

Saturday Morning, 10 AM

Justice and Peace meet at the cafe,
sit together, 
hands folded around steaming cups,
heads bent over the paper.

They are not taking in
the news of the world
with sorrowing eyes
and the clucking of tongues.

They are instead planning their itinerary,
plotting their map,
looking for the places where
they might slip in.  

Their fingers touch, release, 
touch again as they read,
moving with the half-aware habits
that come only with long living alongside.

They have met, parted,
met again on countless mornings
like this one, torn and taken 
by turns.

They put the paper aside
they brush away the crumbs
they talk quietly
they know there is work to do.

But they order one more cup:
there is savoring they must do before
the saving begins,
they lean in

barely touching 
across the table for
a kiss that makes a way,
a world.
(printed with permission)

                                                   Photo by Rachel Ford James


Friday, December 10, 2010


The blessing of God
who has promised
to come into our lives
be with you today.

The blessing of God,
whose breath brings new beginnings,
send you forth into the world
to create a new day for the good of all.  Amen

-- stanzas 1 and 3 of a blessing given at the close of an advent service at Trinity Epsicopal Church, Santa Barbara, California
from Nora Gallagher's book, Things Seen and Unseen, A Year Lived in Faith, p. 17-18.

                       "Apollo Sunrise," taken by crew of Apollo 12 as the sun was
                              emerging from behind the earth, November 1969

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Advent - Day 12

Waiting, Waiting
Tired of Waiting!

Flip the channels
Text the ex
Order out
Log in

Waiting, Waiting
Too much waiting!

Brew the coffee
Watch the watch
Work more
Rest less

Waiting, Waiting
Sick of waiting!



For Whom do you wait?

I forget.

-- ©2010 Twylla Alexander

                               Photo taken in Pokrovskoye-Streshnevo park -- Moscow, Russia
                                                 Twylla Alexander, December 1, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

                                                        Photo by Leta Paine

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"In Our Midst"

"What a waste it is to be surrounded by heaven, by a sky 'made white by angels' wings' and to be unaware of it.  Perhaps the first step is that we really should want to unearth God in our midst. . . [to] let the mundane become the edge of glory, and find the extraordinary in the ordinary."-Esther de Waal 
"To find not perfection, but possibility."-Nora Gallagher 

 -- Quotations taken from "Advent" chapter (p.27) in Things Seen and Unseen, A Year Lived in Faith by Nora Gallagher
                                     Photo by Twylla Alexander, June 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent Litany

Liturgist:  Spirit of love beyond our conception
Congregation: Come to us here where the earth blooms with snow
Liturgist:  Take human form and magnify beauty
Congregation:  Help us be peaceful people of God.

                             Original artwork by Margie Beedle, Juneau, Alaska
                                 Printed by permission only

Sunday, December 5, 2010

"Dawn Psalm"

selected lines from A Book of Hours
pages 93-94

When no one listens
To the quiet trees

When no one notices
The sun in the pool

Where no one feels
The first drop of rain
Or sees the last star

Or hails the first morning
Of a giant world
Where peace begins
And rages end:

One bird sits still
Watching the work of God:
One turning leaf,
Two falling blossoms,
Ten circles upon the pond.

One cloud upon the hillside,
Two shadows in the valley
And the light strikes home.
                       Photo taken in Pokrovskoye-Streshnevo park -- Moscow, Russia
                              by Twylla Alexander, December 1, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What Has Been Given

"Let us not be so foolish as to lose time by waiting to receive --
  what has already been given us once."

*(quote taken from an advent meditation in "The Episcopal Church and Visual Arts")

Friday, December 3, 2010

Season of Lights

by Ann Dixon
Copyright 2002 Ann Dixon*

Winter cold
Does settle and seep
While its best friend, night
Drops wide and deep
To bury the world
In darkness

And then. . .

Christmas bulb
And Hannukuh flame
Kwanzaa and solstice
All proclaim
The power of light
Over darkness.

(*printed with
"New Year's Tree" on Field of Mars
St. Petersburg, Russia
December 3, 2010
Photo by Twylla Alexander

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent Haiku

dancing candle burns
filling all the trees with hope                      
lighting up the night.

by J.D. Walt*
Asbury Seminary
The Asbury Poets Blog
*(printed with
Photograph by QT Luong

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


by Christine Rigden*

The land is grey
and wan December
hangs in barren branches,
cries from castle walls.
leaves are stilled
unmoved by winter's breath.

But the solitary trees,
in each clenched bud
silently enact
an Advent carol.

*(used with permission)
                                              Photographer - Peter Griffin

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


 Quotation from Black Elk, Medicine Man, Lakota Sioux
Advent meditation
St. John's Episcopal Church
Jamaica Plain, MA

The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of men when they realize their relationship, their one-ness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan-Tanka, and that this center is really everywhere; it is within each of us.  This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this.  The second peace is that which is made between two individuals and the third is that which is made between two nations. But above all you should understand that there can never be peace between nations until there is first that true peace, which, as I have often said, is within the souls of men.

                                          Badlands National Park - South Dakota
                       Source: U.S. National Park Service; Photo Credit David McConeghy                  

Monday, November 29, 2010

Making the House Ready for the Lord

Making the House Ready for the Lord
by Mary Oliver, Thirst

Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but
Still nothing is as shining as it should be
for you.  Under the sink, for example, is an
uproar of mice—it is the season of their
many children.  What shall I do?  And under the eaves
and through the walls the squirrels
have gnawed their ragged entrances—but it is the season
when they need shelter, so what shall I do?  And
the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard
while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow;
what shall I do?  Beautiful is the new snow falling
in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly
up the path, to the door.  And still I believe you will
come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox
the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know
that really I am speaking to you whenever I say,
as I do all morning and afternoon:  Come in, Come in.

                                         Source: Photo by V. Bern, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; displayed on Wikipedia

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Let Us Prepare

November 28 -First Sunday in Advent

Let Us Prepare
by Jeanette Adams
St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Teaneck, NJ

Snow is expected
the birds know
there they go
off to the left
in formation
dip low
bank right

Advent approaches
we must prepare
where are the candles
the wreath, the crib
what are the prayers
the hymns, the hopes
who will take the babe to his bed
why must we wait
to walk in the light
Advent approaches
let us prepare
Source:  Photo by Brian Herman, "Outside My Window, A Bird Watcher's View of the World with Kate St. John" (