Day 12: Lights
Editor’s Note: For day 12 of our Advent series, “The Day of Joy Drew Near,” Darleen Pryds discusses how an icon of the Nativity has become more than a simple Advent or Christmas decoration.
Years ago, a friend gave me a small icon of the Nativity. I wasn’t sure what to do with it until I was playing around with art supplies I had…specifically, I had a pane of stained glass that I had purchased from a remnant bin. The glass had caught my eye immediately: the vivid colors conveyed swirling energy when I held it up to the light. I wasn’t sure what I would ever do with it when I purchased it, but the little pane of glass had captivated me. Then that day came when I was “playing around” and I noticed how the colors of the icon and the glass resonated together. In time, I mustered the confidence to go ahead and break the glass and begin to create a frame for the icon. I positioned and repositioned the glass until I was finally satisfied with the sense of movement the glass brought. Then, I placed it all in black grout.
It became a staple Advent/Christmas decoration for many years, until the pandemic hit. For reasons I can’t explain, I never packed it away with the other Christmas decorations in January 2020. It remained on our mantel throughout the year and became a focus of my reflections as I gazed on it first in the waning winter light; then in the tender light of spring. In the full hot sunlight of summer, I saw a more intense energy swirling around the icon, only to see it begin to dim as the autumn light offered more shadows.
I now keep this piece out all year round. My awareness of God in our midst deepens as I continue to pray through gazing on it in the ever changing light…this piece that was made out of the gifts of uncertainty and remnants now invites me daily into the mystery of the incarnation, not through any spotlight of certainty, but with the ever-changing quality of every day light.
Question for Reflection: How can you contemplate the Nativity or the light of Christ year-round?
Darleen Pryds, Ph.D., is a professor of Spirituality and History at the Franciscan School of Theology.