My goal for Thanksgiving vacation was to learn how to fold paper cranes. My son Elijah laughed at me when I told him, but really: that was my goal. I have several friends who make origami cranes, and I think they’re lovely. I had heard Amy Clark wanted another craft table leader for the Christmas Bazaar, and I figured this would be perfect. I was also inspired by the youth group’s project with unclaimed blue hymnals (May they rest in pieces!), and I thought it’d be fun to make cranes with pages of hymns.
It is fun.
Now I’m kind of addicted to making paper cranes. Especially from hymns. I’ve decided to make it my Advent discipline: one “peace crane” per day. They do bring a measure of peace – a few minutes of slow, concentrated effort. But it’s more than the folding of paper. I contemplate the lyrics as I fold. The crane in the photo features the verse: O Master, let me walk with Thee in lowly paths of service free; tell me Thy secret; help me bear the strain of toil, the fret of care. That hymn was a gift to me today: a chance to imagine Jesus whispering hints for a less stressful, more fruitful day. A chance to pray for that.
Advent is a time to anticipate Christ’s coming and God’s shalom. To “anticipate” is to regard something as probable and to expect it, but also to act as a forerunner of it and to embody it somehow. Folding the cranes is giving me a chance to experience a small moment of peace, even as I wait for God’s big and ultimate peace – the promised day when the wolf will live with the lamb, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.
In a newsletter she’s writing about “A Sabbathy Advent,” MaryAnn McKibben Dana shared the following:
Several months ago my father-in-law told me about a simple practice he engages in each evening. “I look up,” he said. As a pastoral counselor, he spends days and many evenings meeting with clients. When he gets home, after he pulls into the driveway and before he goes inside, he takes a quick look up at the sky. He notices the sunset, if the time is right; he notices the formation of clouds or the presence of stars. I expect there is a deep breath and a Sabbath pause as he makes the transition from intense “helping work” to family time with his spouse.
MaryAnn recommends “looking up” as an Advent practice – a moment of prayer and connection with God, a moment to remember our own smallness in relation to God’s vastness. (You can subscribe to her newsletter here.)
Advent can be a busy season. Simple practices like these are helping me to find some peace and perspective and energy for all that needs doing. Is there a practice that works especially well for you? If so, I’d love to hear about it!
PS – If you’d like to fold cranes, check out the instructions here. Or look for me at the Bazaar. I have hymnal pages aplenty and I would be happy to share them!
Carla Pratt Keyes
We are gratified to feature Pastor Carla’s reflections as the first of three December blog entries from our “preaching staff”. Watch for posts from Miriam and Daniel in this space, and visit Carla’s origami table along with many other wondrous things at the church’s Community Christmas Bazaar, Saturday, December 7, 10AM – 3PM.