“I love the stars too much to fear the darkness of the night.”  Willa, co-founder of Viva House

This watercolor painting of a starlit sky hangs on a wall in my daughter Lila’s room.  She carried it home from a third grade field trip to Viva House, and it quickly became a favorite piece of art in our home. In her watercolor Willa captures what we all too easily forget: Darkness is the birthplace of light. Nighttime is womb-time. Fear not.

The word “womb” in Arabic and in Hebrew, “raham” and “rachamim” respectively, also means “compassion”.  This dual meaning invites us to consider that compassion is our first and most natural home, our womb. It invites us to recognize that practicing compassion for ourselves and others nourishes our soul and guides us home.  Perhaps feeling into the compassion of the enfolding dark, and remembering that compassion is our natural state, is a practice that can support us this Advent.  It may be as easy as bringing more awareness to just how good it feels to snuggle into our warm beds at night.

In Advent we are invited to journey in and through the darkness. Darkness invites us to slow down, turn inward and rest deeply. In a culture that leaves little time for rest, the Advent Retreat being offered here at Redeemer on December 8th — “Dark Enfolding, Light Emerging, Hearts Full” — is an opportunity to experience Advent as womb-time.

A variety of opportunities to slow down, turn inward and rest deeply will be offered, including guided meditation, painting, journaling, centering prayer, chair yoga (gentle yoga while seated in a chair) and restorative yoga  (practicing stillness or gentle movement for extended periods of time to align and center our breath and body). Our lunch hour will feature guest speaker Bill Kiley, a retired police officer who will talk about his journeying in and through the darkness of racial strife towards the light of racial reconciliation. We will conclude our retreat together with a simple Eucharist.  There are a variety of “points of entry” so if you can’t participate for the full retreat, you can at least participate for some.  Click here for the day’s schedule.

This Advent may we slow down in order to feel nighttime’s sweet embrace.  May we abide in the compassionate darkness where creativity, aliveness and energy are born. May darkness grant us permission to practice self-compassion so we may find new life from peace within and share this with others around us.

~Vivian Campagna

Editor’s Note: Vivian is our interim director of youth ministry and is also a professional yoga instructor.

Please let us know you are coming!  RSVP to Cristina.