I'm thrilled to introduce Rachel Huckstep and The Edge of the Enclosure's first Advent Retreat. I hope you enjoy Rachel's beautiful reflections and meditating on the Byzantine Icons she has chosen to guide us to a deepening of our Advent understanding.
Rachel is a lay Roman Catholic chaplain at Kings College London with a background in Byzantine art and Christian theology. She is a mother of four children trying to hold together the dynamic of contemplative prayer and an active daily life and finds looking at icons a helpful way to do this. The icons hold the center and in their silence they pull all the fragmenting pieces together into a solidity of eternal mystery.
I hope that you will walk with me through this Advent season, where we will reach deeper within ourselves and within our world, in a preparation for the gift of an intimacy and surrender in Christ. A closer and sweeter knowing than we can ever imagine.
Walking in the early morning hedgerows in November marveling at the small song birds that are still here as the weather is unseasonably warm. Bright red berries on slender brown bramble trees or bunched extravagantly on holly, and autumn reds and ochres damp with last night's rain. Heavy wooled sheep, the stalwarts of the season watch me from their feast of grass, too green to believe, and I sense what intimacy really means. The oneness with which St Francis approached people and nature and the oneness I long for. A desire to be touched, moved, and to SEE the presence of God around me.
Do we doubt our ability to be generous - awake - for fear that our life will have to change, or afraid that if we give too much we will be hurt again? Let us walk together and pray with each other for the trust to know that all generosity and love is God's presence within us, renewed and recreated each Advent.
Jesus, the Christ, holds the center of our lives, our world and the universe. All points begin and end with him. The 'work' of Advent, the preparation we do, is so that we might be part of the 'shining forth' of Christ's pure concentration of energy, light and power. All the fragmentation and disintegrations of the world, societies, religions, people, and within me - are held, healed and finally transformed through him this Advent and Christmas season. Let's be brave and make the journey together.