First of all: hooray for the world's best husband! Thad not only cleaned up my keyboard last night--he brought me home a new one, too. This one, in fact. It's amazing, it was on sale, and it's washable. Did I mention that it's washable? As in, you can submerge it in water washable...
I'm loving this new keyboard. Can you tell? I think, given my inevitable habit of having beverages near my writing area, that I probably needed this thing years ago.
Now: yesterday what I had meant to post was something new that I want to do over Advent. In years past I've done several different sorts of things, from sticking to my regular blogging to taking extended breaks to mixing up seasonal stuff with the more usual politics, religion and culture topics to combinations of any or all of those.
But this year, I had a different idea, and I want to share it with you now.
Every year our family does a Jesse Tree devotion over Advent. Our Jesse Tree is a lovely felt tree with attachable symbols which was made by one of my sisters, who is now a Sister with the Sister Servants of the Eternal Word. My sister gave Thad and me the tree along with a typewritten (yes, that long ago!) list of the order in which the symbols were to be attached along with the suggested Scripture reading for that day.
There was one tiny problem we experienced in using the tree: some nights the readings were of manageable length, and sometimes they were on the short side, but on some nights the readings were--well, not conducive to an evening family devotion, let's just say. Such as the night that instructed the reader to read the whole book of Jonah out loud. Or the night when several pages of the Old Testament were read in order to tell the whole story of Joseph--his brothers, the coat, the well, the Pharaoh, the dreams, well, you get it.
We did many things over the years to make this work for us, including summarizing the readings, substituting some "Children's Bible" versions of the longer stories, and so on. But last year, having done these things for many years and also having older teens who were quite capable of reading the entire suggested readings quietly to themselves sometime during the day, I wanted to come up with something that would work for an after-dinner prayer time when Thad could join us, that would still incorporate the familiar tradition of our much-loved Jesse Tree.
So I wrote some very simple, very non-professional, very basic reflections on each day's readings for us to read in the evenings as we placed each day's symbol on the Jesse Tree. We always kept the option open of reading the day's Scripture reading out loud together at that time, too, but on busy December evenings when the reading of the day was a good twenty or thirty-minute session (or longer--no, really!), we could still talk about the Scripture theme for the day and add the reflection to our evening prayers.
Now, I know that just about every Jesse Tree is different, and the reflections I wrote to go with this particular set of symbols might not be a perfect match for your own family's devotions--if the Jesse Tree is something you do during Advent. But I'd really like to take a step away from the more secular themes this time of year, and sharing these Jesse Tree reflections with you seemed like a good way to do it.
Starting tomorrow, then, I will begin posting the reflections I wrote. I'm starting early because I think more people might enjoy these reflections if they're available ahead of the actual first day of Advent. Here are a few things I want to get out of the way up front, though:
1. I don't know the source of my sister's original list of suggested symbols and Scripture readings. I believe that posting those along with my reflections would constitute fair use in any case, as I don't think that mere lists of this type can be copyrighted, given the many iterations of Jesse Tree symbols and readings that are out there. However, if these materials are subject to copyright and the original copyright holder contacts me, I'll either remove those portions of my posts or attribute them to the copyright holder, whichever the copyright holder prefers.
2. I am sharing these in the awareness that I'm just an average lay Catholic woman with no special training. If anybody sees any glaring errors in what I wrote, please let me know; my intent is always to think along with the Church, not against her, so I'll fix anything that's problematic. Just tell me.
3. These brief reflections are what they are, but if for some reason you like them and want to use them at home, at church, with parish or church groups, or in some other reasonable way, please do so. My only stipulation is that nobody ever gets charged in connection with them (e.g., don't turn them into an e-book or something and try to sell it, 'cause I'd be annoyed, and if you actually sold any I'd be shocked as well).
4. The reflections, like our original Jesse Tree devotions, are dated from Dec. 1 to Dec. 25. Since Advent always starts on a different day each year, this seems to be the best way. This year, of course, Advent starts Dec. 2---so I plan on doing the Dec. 1 reading either as "First Sunday of Advent Eve" or else just do both readings on Dec. 2. Do what works--but, yes, I do know that the first day of Advent isn't Dec. 1 this year (or most years, come to think of it).
I think that's all you need to know--see you tomorrow for the first set! Oh, and I may post more than one here or there, because I don't usually remember to blog on weekends and I don't want to fall too far behind. :)