I´ve been wanting to do something different with this blog, to shake things up a bit. Or just blog more. That would be shaking things up a bit.
Reading others´ blogs through the years, I´ve liked the idea of month-long photo challenges. So when I came across the Catholic Sistas´ 2016 Advent Photo Challenge, it seemed like a great idea.
Maybe just because I caught it early in the first week of Advent.
But, then again, I love me some Advent, so this just seemed right up my alley.
Instead of posting one photo every day (because we all know that isn´t going to happen), I´ll post my 7 photos from the week once a week.
So--here´s this week!
November 27th: wreath
For the first few Christmases we spent in Mexico, I was a little lost by not spending Christmas in a snowy wonderland. That, and I was becoming aware that the Christmas we celebrate (even in Mexico) is morphing into a celebration of the idyllic winter wonderland, and not the birth of Jesus. Let´s face it, Bethlehem in December probably faces the same chilly weather as much of Mexico--and probably the same severe lack of snow.
Our first year in Mexico, we lived in Metepec, in the state of Mexico, that is famous for clay pottery (arboles de vida, in particular). After searching high and low, this Advent wreath seemed like the perfect souvenir of our year there.
I love that there are no flocked pine needles anywhere to be found on this wreath.
November 28: violet
Right before Advent begins, a lot of the daily Bible readings came from the book of Revelations. Yikes. That book always reminds me of advice that my neighbor, Gloria, gave me. "When things seem like they are getting scary, when you need to run away, head into the mountains."
Here´s hoping that I never have to use her advice. However, when the light hits them right, the mountains that surround Saltillo do turn a bit purple.
November 29: pray
On Tuesday, a friend of mine shared that someone who had been influential in her life had a comforting habit of praying verses straight out of the Bible. That idea has been simmering in my mind a bit all week.
On Thursday, I came across this verse, which I just love.
So, for anybody out there in anguish--it´s worth a try!
November 30: martyr
OK, no pictures for this one. But in thinking about what to show for "martyr day", it reminded me of a story I heard from Nigeria. Boko Haram has been running loose, making lots of martyrs of both Christians and Muslims. I´ve heard that in some cities, on Fridays, when the Muslims attend mosque, the Christians stand guard outside. Then on Sundays, when the Christians go to church, their Muslim neighbors stand guard--both groups doing their best to make sure that there are fewer martyrs overall.
If that isn´t an excellent example of trying to make peace on earth as we await Christmas a reality, I don´t know what is. May we follow their example.
December 1: prepare
Photo my daily planner. It got hijacked a few weeks ago, and most of November got covered in angry dinosaurs.
But it still keeps me on top of things.
Mostly because those angry dinosaurs are breathing down my neck.
December 2: Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Gospel reading for Friday was of Jesus healing a blind person. I don´t know as much as I´d like to about Jesus, but I know that he wants us all to be healed--physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally. Whatever ails us, I´m confident that Jesus wants it to be fixed.
Also on Friday, my choir went on our Christmas tour to a hospital and rehabilitation center. Clearly, we didn´t heal anybody. But lots of people do get healed in those places. However, we just sang. But we had a nice time, and I hope that those who heard us enjoyed it, too.
December 3: Immaculate Heart of Mary
Confession: I am not a cradle Catholic. I was raised Methodist, and while I certainly respect Mary, I´m not much of a Marianist. I´m pretty sure she´s OK with that.
That being said, thinking about a photo to represent the Immaculate Heart of Mary threw me for a loop. Fortunately for me, I began writing this post while sitting in a rehearsal of the opera Suor Angelica, where Mary is invoked more or less constantly. The opera also deals with themes of children born out of wedlock, penance, forgiveness, and suicide.
As a background note, Suor Angelica (set in the 1600s) had a baby out of wedlock, and was sent to the convent immediately after the baby was born. Seven years later, the aunt who sent her away still has not forgiven her. Suor Angelica´s life is consumed with penance for having a baby out of wedlock and prays to Mary pretty constantly. Who else had a baby out of wedlock? Yes--Mary! Oh, the irony! Had Joseph not believed her, Mary and Jesus could have lived with the shame and discrimination that other unwed mothers and illegitimate children of that era faced. (Way to go, Joe!)
Thanks goodness we live in an age and society where [almost] no one bats an eye at unwed mothers and their children. May we remember Mary and Jesus´s example and stand in solidarity with those families, families who may have very young parents, families who may have only one parent.
Boy, there´s a reflection that I didn´t expect today!
What other strange connections will this photo challenge unearth? We´ll find out next week!