Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Reclaiming Advent, Part 2

One of our grandsons has been spending a lot of time with us. At 8 years old, his focus this time of year  is Christmas, anticipating the presents that he might get.  I remember clearly, and with fondness, my own excitement at that age. But in an effort to help him develop an appreciation for other joys  of  Advent we've been looking for opportunities to engage him in those experiences - music, light, stories, scents.

A local event that friends introduced to us is the fabulous collection of creches at Mariopolis Luminosa in Hyde Park.  The campus is a center for the Focolare movement, an organization with Catholic roots that works toward unity and peace throughout the world.  Every December they display over 200 creches from over 60 countries.  Last week we took Landen there after school.

The creches are  arranged by areas of origin - Europe, Middle East, Asia, North America, etc.  Someone, a team, I imagine, spent a lot of time setting them up.The displays were  artistically and thoughtfully done, using many natural elements - bark, driftwood, rocks, sand, grasses, pine cones, etc.as well as lights and glittery papers and fabrics. 

We spent  time looking at them, then enjoyed  hot chocolate and cookies that were offered in a seating area.  If you have young children, there is a table that has sturdy stuffed and wooden versions of the figures so that they can play with them.

We took each other to the ones that most impressed us. Landen particularly liked one from South America, made of bread dough.  I was drawn most to a creche from Syria - a small peaceful scene, so poignant this year.  And there was one from Long Island made of three little stones - quite abstract, but the shapes of the rocks captured the postures so well. The creches gave us a chance to talk about how Christmas is celebrated in other countries.  And, of course, there is the story celebrated over and over in such a variety of ways.  Some creches had only a few figures, others were very elaborate.  Some were made with humble materials - bread, rocks, bits of hardware, straw.  Others were more precious - Murano glass, porcelain.

Long Island
The community members we met were warm, welcoming, interested in speaking with us.  We felt like special guests. I think it will be a good memory for Landen to tuck away.

The exhibit is open every day through December 30, usually in the afternoons. Check the website for hours and directions.

Native American

Origami from Japan

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