Deck the halls with lots of action. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.
Tis the season of distraction. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.
Don we now our panicked rushing. Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la.
Troll the constant frantic wailing. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!!
Hello! I’m Br. Ricky, OSB-F (Order of St. Benedict-Feline). I’m a member of the Benedictine Feline Cloister in Mountainside, New Jersey, and Novice Master. I welcome you to this article and mew, “Your blessing, please.” (RB 66.3)
A quick question as we begin – Did you sing the above version of “Deck the halls?” If not, I invite you sing this catchy version now. I’ll mew along with you…Ready?
The Reality of Pre-Christmas Advent
“I’ve just wrapped the last package
I’m going to wrap!”
Does this revamped jingle ring true for you in this pre-Christmas Season? All of us in the Feline Cloister and our Worldwide Novices, too, have observed the frantic whizzing around of our humans as the holidays approach.
In Advent, humans are busier than ever as even more “to dos” are piled upon an already crowded schedule—baking cookies for friends or teachers, buying gifts, attending school and church holiday concerts, decorating the home, visiting friends and families, entertaining, and perhaps even creating special worship services.
I’m exhausted just thinking about all that!
Benedict Encourages a Different M.O.
Now I mew that much of this action has good intentions and springs from a generous hearts. Yet, we felines observe a wide-spread amnesia regarding St. Benedict’s instructions for moderation and balance.
Humans can and often do get swept up in the cultural blitz of pre-Christmas. We felines get exhausted watching it and opt for a good read or, even better, a nap. I have mewed repeatedly to Amma Jane that in the rush she can lose her spiritual center in God. She can miss the peace and beauty of Advent.
Benedict asks us to act differently from the usual way of the world, which tilts toward excess. We are to put the love of Christ first in how we approach everything (RB 4.20-21) and to “prefer nothing whatever to Christ.” (RB 72.11) Even for us felines, the challenge is to remember these two practices and to act on them.
Feline Minnie has succombed to the
cultural norm of excess
Part of the problem is an imagined separation of the sacred and the secular. Humans can view some activities as spiritual, like church, reading the Bible or prayer. They can view the rest, like shopping, running errands, working, etc., as secular and somehow separate from God.
Br. Augustine Fur, OSB-F, ready to clean around the litter pans
The Solution to Separating “the Sacred” from “the Secular”
May I suggest that we become weavers?
Don’t panic, please. No need to run out and buy loom and yarn, although it must be satisfying to work at a loom and see something beautiful emerge.
What I’m suggesting here is that we find a way to weave all parts of our life together into a sacred whole. The process of weaving gives us an illustration for forming a life of unity and beauty; a life infused with Christ. Here’s how.
Note the footpedals
The Process of Weaving
To weave, a loom is set up with scores of threads or yarn that run front to back from where the weaver sits. These threads are called the “warp.”
The weaver wraps a small device called a “shuttle” with more thread or yarn. The shuttle is then woven back and forth, above and below the warp threads. This creates the “weft,” an Old English word meaning “that which is woven.”
The weaver works foot pedals that raise the warp threads in various configurations to create the pattern of the woven cloth. So cool!
Weaving Our Lives
Here’s my idea of what this process can mean for us.
You and I sit at the loom of our lives. Each warp thread is a facet of our life, an activity, a role, a responsibility, a task, a community that we are a part of. There are many colors and textures, some bright and shining, some dark and dull.
Our lives have many colors just like weaving yarns
(Ashford Yarns on The Fibre Garden Website)
As we look intently at the warp, the combination of parallel threads may be beautiful. Yet the threads just existing by themselves. There are empty spaces between each thread so that nothing can be held or supported. The threads of the warp are isolated and weak.
This is what the many facets of our lives can seem like at times—separate and isolated tasks to be dealt with, finished, and checked off on the to-do list. Like the warp on a loom, they need to be joined together and strengthened. And so, we use the shuttle to weave the weft yarn into the warp. What is our shuttle?
Christ will weave together all parts of our lives into wholeness and holiness
Christ is our shuttle!
The yarn of who he is will join the warp of our lives into a solid and glorious unity; a unity that is strong, purposeful and that hangs together as a whole. Jesus tells us how to work the foot pedals, so that his presence can create tapestries of infinite beauty, unique for each of us.
As you weave the shuttle of Christ back and forth through the threads of the loom, with him you are weaving together the myriad piece parts of each day, each hour, each minute. The warp of life begins to make sense as we see everything as it is joined together by Christ. All we need do is to pick up that shuttle and let Christ move through the warp of our lives.
What Happens When Christ is Our Shuttle?
Through the spiritual practice of weaving Christ into our day, we are better able to live the love of Christ and to prefer him above all else. (RB 72.11) We acknowledge his presence with us. Shopping? Christ is there. Decorating the home? He is there too. Filling the house with Christmas carols? He is definitely present.
As we do our work, we can envision the shuttle of Christ making sense of it all, bringing all into a unity, making all holy and blessed. We can also pause even briefly throughout the day to envision the loom and Christ who brings all together. We can let him help us see everything we do as infused with his life-giving and creative spirit.
Are you ready to start weaving?
Need some guidance? I prepared a little tool for you to use based on this article. I also included a beautiful prayer about weaving Christ into our lives, something we can do in any season!
Thank you for reading my article. It was great being with you.
Have a blessed Advent and a joyous Christmas! And if you aren’t reading this in Advent, have a joyous day. Advent Weaving can be done all year round!
Your feline Benedictine friend,
Br. Ricky, OSB-F
Novice Master of the Feline Cloister
This article appeared in Spirit & Life, a bi-monthly publication of The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri. Each issue contains inspiring articles, news about the Sisters, and book reviews. To learn more and to subscribe to this wonderful publication, click here.