Tuesday, December 08, 2009

How to have a simple and effective Advent Spiral

Location: a lovely basement room with a beautiful cork floor.  As an alternative, I love Melisa Neilson's idea of holding it in a garage.
The participants: 5 families with 9 children between us, ranging from 16 months to 9.5 years
Things to bring: candles, candleholders, and optionally, a snack to share

Our host prepared her room before we came by laying out her floor in a spiral of greens.  She added a pine cone here and there, as well as golden cardboard stars, and placed a candle in the spiral's center.

As our group gathered, the children took the time to play.  When we were ready to begin, our host went downstairs, turned off the lights, and lit the center candle, plus a few others around the room.

I had prepared a packet of songs for each family - those extra candles around the periphery of the room were super-handy in providing us enough light to read the sheets!  To help set the mood, I led the group in singing "Down with Darkness" - we sang it a few times through.

Then, I continued the music by playing my recorder and singing.

One of the moms began the Spiral by walking into the center, lighting her candle, and then setting it on the path as she came back out.  We continued with the oldest child (with the intent of modeling the walk for the other children), and the rest of the kids took turns - in no particular order.

Each of us had brought our own candles and candleholders - no two were the same, which created a delightful variety along the spiral.

At the end, I led us in a few repetitions of "Dona Nobis Pacem".

When we were finished, the children went back to playing.  When hunger set in, we enjoyed some potluck snacks.

This is the music we used
Things to do differently next time:
  • Before moving into the Spiral room/area, chat more thoroughly with the children to help them enter a meditative, contemplative mood.
  • During the chat, describe to the children what they will do in the spiral - I thought our first youthful Spiral-walker knew what he was doing, only to find out afterward that he did not.  Oops!
  • Make sure the recorder player / singer has a good candle and set of music in the place where she'll sit or stand.  I did not do this in advance, and ended up improvising my set-up.
  • We did not read or tell a story.  This worked out ok, but a story would have added a nice touch.
    Isn't this simple plate of oranges and pomegranate seeds gorgeous?!  I just had to take its photo! :-)

    Star cookies in honor of the coming Solstice.

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