Advent is an important time of the year for spiritual development. Each week in December is a step towards Christmas. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus meaning a coming, approach, arrival. During this time we can prepare ourselves for a birth. It is ‘a birth’ because for each of us it will be different. The Christ in ‘Christ’mas is a mighty Cosmic being whose essence is within every human being on this earth as a seed. It is up to each of us to allow this seed to germinate and grow and this means that we are all at different stages of this process. Like many plants, each year produces a different crop.
Rudolf Steiner wrote a poem which we can use to guide us through the month.
The first light of Advent is the light of stone–.
Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones.
The second light of Advent is the light of plants–
Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.
The third light of Advent is the light of beasts–
All await the birth, from the greatest and in least.
The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind–
The light of hope that we may learn to love and understand.
– R. Steiner
If we take the first stanza for the first week we might think about all that is mineral-like in our being. This is our physical element, the structure of our body which supports all the processes of earthly life.
In our contemplation we might see the creative wisdom that designed our body. It is in our physical body that we find the forces of Cosmic Will. We know that through our body we can use our will to act and behave in the world as we like. We also know that we must do this with wisdom and this is then linked to the impulses of human conscience. Imagine having such a pure will that we could create a human body. Imagine having such a pure conscience that we would never do anything wrong.
Our body also gives us a sense of ourselves as separate beings. In fact, it gives us conscious awareness of our self as an individual making our own decisions. Without this body we experience ourselves as part of the whole Cosmos. Only when we incarnate into a physical body do we feel ourselves as unique and separate from every other thing on the earth. Our task is to work through this experience and see ourselves connected with everything on this earth and in the Cosmos – but now as self-realized individuals rather than part of the homogenized whole. In this way we prepare for Christmas – the birth of Christ within us.