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Advent is beautiful

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Advent is beautiful.

During no other season of the year do creative forces from all walks of life come together to make life beautiful. Across denominations — even beyond the religious and into the secular — it seems the whole world is in on a plan to fill our senses with twinkling lights and freshly cut evergreen and cheerful music. Mankind turns its attention toward exercising gifts and talents in ways that reflect the beauty-imbued imagination of the creator. 

During a season that can be draining with its busyness, creativity gives us life. Whether it’s belting out a Christmas carol along with the radio in an empty car or tying a bow just so on the perfect gift, we are more fully alive when we share in the creative process. Made in the image of the creator, we are people whose spirits fill when we use our gifts to benefit others and, in doing so, we become more authentically who God intended us to be. 

The urge to bring beauty forward during Advent is one that connects us with the people around us. We have a common purpose and we share a common experience. For Christians together, the thrill of hope is real and it comes to life in the beauty of the season. God created the earth in all its intricate detail. With every stroke of his brush, he demonstrated how much he loves beauty. His most beautiful creation is mankind, and we — the people made in his image and likeness — shine forth with creativity. During Advent especially, we use it to celebrate the Light of the World, born to shine forth into the darkness.

If you are a person who considers herself uncreative, I urge you to reconsider. There really is no such thing as an uncreative Christian. It’s an oxymoron. God’s finest creation, transformed by Christ’s redemptive love, can only be creative. Perhaps you need to reconsider beauty in order to see how you can contribute beauty to the world creatively.

St. Thomas Aquinas considered beauty by defining its component parts: wholeness, harmony and radiance. Now, look at your preparations for Christmas through the lens of beauty. We bring wholeness to our preparations when we mark the days with the rhythm of prayer and we consistently seek the Lord in scripture, reading with the universal church the prophecies that lit the path to the manger.

Harmony is the deft arrangement of individual parts into cohesive whole. No other event on our calendars requires so many moving parts and so much careful consideration to bring them all together as does a Christmas celebration in the heart of family. 

Even if your Christmas morning won’t be as big and busy as one in the midst of many children, every Christmas celebration can include hospitality toward a group of individuals and all the necessary components to make that happen. And then there’s radiance; when the joy of human experience meets the supernatural light, there is radiance. 

We can look upon this season through dull eyes and only notice the bustle and the noise and the endlessly long to-do lists. Or, we can look for the radiance. In order to choose radiance, we have to slow down. We have to see how God touches the ordinary and makes it luminous. Those can be little bulbs around filaments strung on an ugly green wire, or they can be twinkling magic on an evergreen hung with priceless memories.

Is Advent beautiful?

It is.

But only if you endeavor to make it so, calling upon the creative inspiration of the Holy Spirit who animates true beauty. And only if you truly notice all the places where the spirt has shone light from within, illuminating even the ordinary with transcendent wholeness and harmony.

Foss, whose website is takeupandread.org, is a freelance writer from Northern Virginia.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018