The night is half spent.this calendar. You may recognize the illustrative style; the calendar was designed by Steve Erspamer, whose artwork adorns the Real Live Preacher's blog. We love this calendar not only for its visual beauty and its unusual six-sided city design, but because of the way it forces us to make space for wonder and reflection during our culture's busiest season.
Each evening, we open a flap (sometimes two, if it's a special feast day) with the exclamation, "Lift up your heads, o gates, and be lifted up, o ancient doors, that the King of Glory may come in!" We then read a reflection from the booklet that came with the calendar, which usually focuses on a particular saint of either antiquity or modernity; early on, for instance, we revealed a lovely iconic painting of Rosa Parks standing in front of a bus. This week, we've been reading the "O Antiphons," which guide us through the verses of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel." After Christmas, we will celebrate its twelve days, ending with an Epiphany celebration.
These rituals are not a natural part of "the holiday season" as we know it in America. But they are a vital one for our household. They force us to slow down, to consider what we are really celebrating when we finally arrive at Christmas day. Marking the light is necessary in the midst of the darkest time of year. The night is half spent, and we eagerly wait for the dawn.