As temperatures drop and days grow shorter, most of the ordinary tasks of beekeepers and gardeners move indoors. In rhythm with the seasons, we rest amongst piles of seed catalogs, make plans for the dirt, and pray for our wintering bees.
It’s chandlery season for this beekeeper. The delicate process of making candles began in July when we saved the wax cappings from our honey harvest. I’ve since cleaned the wax, melted it down, and filtered any impurities. Blocks of golden, earthy wax waited patiently for the cooler days, and now have been crafted at my kitchen counter into something beautifully useful.
Just as the changing of the seasons has moved me into preparation-mode for next year’s garden and beeyard, another calendar directs me to focus on preparing my heart for the coming of Christ. The Church’s liturgical calendar starts fresh this year on November 29th, the first Sunday of Advent. What an exciting way to begin a “new year”—readying ourselves for the birth of Jesus at Christmas!
As a mother, I remember well the anticipation to meet my new babies. It was another sort of calendar, a way of marking the passing of days, weeks, and nine months. The expectant joy was shared with my husband, family, and friends as we celebrated with baby showers and painted nurseries. We stayed busy learning and praying all we could for the arrival of our blessings. Advent is such a season, the quiet excitement and time of making room in our hearts for the true meaning of Christmas through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
Now that the candles are made, this gardener will take her children into the woods and search for the makings of our family’s Advent wreath. The rich scent of the pine will fill our basket and home with the reminder of the eternal life for which we were created. If we find them, great treasures of pinecones, seedpods, or nuts will decorate our greenery to represent the new life we receive through faith in Jesus Christ.
We will light one of the beeswax candles on the wreath each Sunday of Advent until all four candles glow. The progressive lighting is a way of building anticipation and expectation for the coming Hope. In the Gospel, Jesus proclaims, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,” (John 8:12).
Light, such as the sun, is necessary for the garden to grow. It will be a bit, but spring will come, the flowers will blossom, and bees will bump bloom to bloom for their sweet nectar and dusty pollen. In a year that’s been clouded with chaos and confusion, the world is more than ready for the soft flicker of Advent, for the twinkle and sparkle of Christmas, for the Light of the World.
There’s just one thing about the brightness, the light, the joy that we have. We can’t keep the illumination of the Spirit to ourselves. We can’t stay hidden and isolated as if lighting a candle and then covering it with commercialism or coronavirus or even towering piles of seed catalogs. But that’s the thing about Jesus and Him being the Light of the World—it’s not possible to hide the peace, hope, or joy that He brings.