Every year, I always end up feeling like I haven’t done Advent right. I know, there’s no one “right” way to do Advent; it’s not like loading batteries into a camera or cooking a soufflé. But all the same, I always end up feeling like I could have done more to make it a prayerful, reflective time. In the spirit of that, I’m always grateful for resources to help me. This year a wonderful one fell right into my lap (or, to be more specific, my mailbox): a review copy of Lisa Hendey’s new booklet O Radiant Dawn: 5-Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath.
Let me say up-front that Lisa is no stranger to me. I’ve had the fun of hanging out with her several times over the last few years (we’re California girls who only live a few hours’ drive apart from each other), and I’m a huge fan of her recent book on the saints. I love that she too is the mother of two boys, which means she is living proof that one can survive this experience while still maintaining one’s sanity. Lisa is warm and funny and humble and an all-around amazing woman, and so it’s a welcome treat to have her take on Advent in the form of this book.
O Radiant Dawn features a short reading and prayer for every day of Advent, along with reflection questions suitable for discussion with children (each day offers two reflection questions, one for older kids and one for younger kids, which is a great touch). The questions include “Where in your life do you experience justice and peace? How can you help others experience these same gifts from God?” and “What joys and gifts are you thanking God for this week?” These discussion prompts could work beautifully for sharing around the Advent wreath; they could also be rich food for a dinnertime conversation. They are also great for a mom to ponder and pray over on her own, if your evenings (like mine) often include small children who are fried from the day and who melt down faster than the candles on the Advent wreath.
In fact, that’s what I appreciate about Lisa’s introduction to the book: she’s so up-front about there being No One Right Way to use the book, or to celebrate Advent, period. On the very first page, she writes: “Put away unhelpful expectations of what you think Advent should be and allow this to be a time of simplicity, focus, and sacred longing.”
I loved that line so much that I read it about three times in a row, letting it sink in. Simplicity, focus, and sacred longing: yes, that’s what it is really all about. Thank you, Lisa, for the reminder – and for this wonderful gem of a little book to help.
O Radiant Dawn: 5-Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath by Lisa M. Hendey, published by Ave Maria Press.