Advent III


The LORD has done great things for us

and we are glad in deed.

The LORD has done great things for us

and we are glad in deed.

Psalm 126:4 (repeated twice)

On View: “Baby Steps II” by Heather J. Annis; watercolor, October 21, 2008, 18 ½” x 6 ½”.

“Ten years ago, I prepared for my first Christmas in my new apartment. It was a time of deciding which old family traditions to preserve, and what new ones to create. I was between church homes and not actively seeking a spiritual practice or giving much thought to the message of the season. Nevertheless, in the midst of this bustling season of anxiety and anticipation, it occurred to me that perhaps I ought to slow down and pay attention.

“My landlords lived in the apartment below my own; their daughter was nearly a year old at the time. Eyeing an empty baby food jar in the recycling bin one evening, it came to me that I had always loved Advent candles, yet they had never been part of my celebration, short of seeing them lit in church growing up. I snagged the jar and asked my landlady if she might save me three more. These I discovered, freshly washed, sitting on the stairs to my second floor apartment the next day. Placing purple and pink votives in these makeshift candle holders, I arranged them in a row next to the television and lit them on the appropriate Sundays. It was a start.

“The next year, being more settled and in a better position financially, I decided it was time to replace the jars with something more “grown-up”. I proudly purchased a fancy set of frosted glass candle holders neatly held by a decorative stand. It was not at all the same. After a couple of weeks of frowning at it from across the room, I rummaged around my front hall closet, producing four empty baby food jars. Something had kept me from throwing them away. Into the hall closet went the frosted glass votive holders (which were sold in a yard sale the following summer). From then on, my humble display has been a staple of my Advent tradition.

“Ten years later, I realize these jars are a metaphor for the spiritual life. We begin with only the dimmest inkling of faith, faith that needs to be contained and consumed in small servings. The spiritual journey is neither fancy nor neat and it cannot be rushed. Even when we think we “have it,” we become sharply aware that our movement toward divine encounter occurs only in baby steps. We must be patient with ourselves and with our baby food jars. Christmas and Christ will always come for us; may Advent be for us a tiny taste of the coming light.” ~Heather Annis

About the Artist: Heather is an active member of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Providence, RI. She is currently completing a Masters degree in Theology and the Arts at Andover Newton Theological School. Her main interests lie in community arts and participatory aesthetics. Heather works in a variety of media, including watercolor, pencil, collage, crayon, marker, and graphic design. Heather Annis is an exhibiting artist member of The Artists Registry.

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