At this time of year, in Waldorf homes, a Nativity table is set up, and is decorated over the weeks with symbols representing the Creation story. Accordingly, the first week of Advent celebrates the creation of the rocks and minerals, and so, stones, crystals and shells are placed on the table. We dont follow that tradition, but It's a nice idea - especially for young children, as it encourages them to think more deeply about the season.
Here, we live on rock that is the oldest in the world - hard rock that has endured since the beginning of the world. Just up the hill is a stone circle that has stood for over 5,000 years - facing whatever the elements have thrown at it over all those millenia. On stormy nights, when the gales howl around the house - thoughts of this are very reassuring.
I've always loved the idea of God as a rock. The feeling that there is something so strong - so enduring at my back, is more than a comfort. One of my favourite hymns is Rock of Ages - one of those tub thumpers that we rarely seem to sing nowadays, and I guess that is where my image comes from.
Advent and Christmas can be difficult times when we are facing storms in our lives - missing loved ones perhaps, difficult relationships, changed circumstances, or just buckling under the (self-imposed) pressure to make everyone happy. I know that, in the past, I have often said that I would like to hide away until January. But - life keeps moving, and where I am this December is different from last year, and will be different again next year. The one thing that is always there is that big steadfast rock at my back. Knowing that helps me to keep going forward - sometimes quickly, sometimes one step at a time, and sometimes sheltering in that cleft until the worst of the winds die down.