art - sunset - viewing Advent in a whole new way

art: viewing Advent in a whole new way

It can be hard to decide how to approach the Advent season. Because we wonder if there’s a particular art to walking the road to Bethlehem. I would suggest it’s as individual as we are. For instance, I’m keen on using fresh resources each year as I love trying new things and having an alternative perspective to mull over.

Art can inspire and fire the imagination, elicit deep feelings and reveal spiritual truth in a new way. Images frequently stir me to write poetry, such as the one below, which was inspired by reflecting on William Blake’s famous Ancient of Days painting.

“The child who is waiting to be born demands a response. Blake’s The Ancient of Days shows us God’s own preparations for this birth, preparations that go back before time, back to the very heart and nature of God.” – The Art of Advent: A Painting a Day from Advent to Epiphany by Dr Jane Williams

Art and poetry combine

Ancient of Days

Surrounded by a golden halo
of light, a Gandalf beard sweeping
forward, as he stretches out his

hands, and fingers become
a skeletal compass,
a measuring stick to separate

day from night, forming the world
with intelligent design, great
wisdom and insight.

Each shaft of light is purposefully
aligned, by this eternally youthful
Ancient of Days, surrounded
and framed by rays.

His manly, muscular physique
suggesting the humanity
of Christ, the identification
he has with us

through his freely poured out blood,
the Via Dolorosa we too will walk,
the adversities borne by the weak.

This very act of reaching out speaks
of God’s compassion and grace,
his innate desire to share his love,
his aching heart for the human race.
© joylenton

“We need images and symbols to help us understand the mystery of God’s love for us. Incarnation’s revelation is a song to be sung, a poem to be recited, a new language to be learned by heart.” – ‘Travelling Light: Your Journey to Wholeness’ by Daniel J. O’Leary

art - The Ancient of Days image (C) British Museum via

Resources to help you

I will be sharing a poetic reflection a week here for you to enjoy during Advent. They will be based on individual works of art. And if you want permission to slow and an exhale for your soul, then Michelle DeRusha’s thoughtful Practicing Presence Audio Series (aired pre-Advent but still highly relevant) can be accessed here.

Viewing and doing Advent differently could also mean having a digital detox. So this helpful snippet from Seth Haines’ recent newsletter might just hit the spot for you:

“Allow me to offer this multi-day, six-step plan of action for freeing yourself from the digital manipulation, at least as you begin the coming Advent and Christmas season.

Step 1: Delete all social media apps from your phone.
Step 2: Delete all shopping apps from your phone.
Step 3: Find a child, a friend, or a great piece of art. Find anything tangible, anything real.
Step 4: Play with the child. Talk with the friend. Stare at the art. Spend time in the present.
Step 5: Play, talk, or stare until you’re smiling, until the consumer wants of the world become as if a memory.
Step 6: Repeat as necessary for two weeks, refusing the pull of the digital manipulations.

This week I interviewed a couple of local friends about art and made my way to a local museum to find a Rothko… it’s meant to inspire you to get out into the real world and experience something tangible.”

PS: You can connect with Seth Haines here and sign up for his inspiring newsletters here. His video channel can be found here.

Recommended books for Advent

Because I tend to read different books each year during Advent, I’m sharing a few suggested resources I’ve used in previous years, chosen to read for 2018 or had recommended to me. They all have something valuable to add to the season. I’d love to hear about your own recommendations, books or otherwise. Thank you! 🙂

*Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links. If you click on them and purchase anything at all, you help support this blog at no additional cost to yourself.*

art - ancient of days poem excerpt (C)joylenton

6 thoughts on “art: viewing Advent in a whole new way”

  1. Dear Joy,
    What a beautiful and inspiring post for the beginning of Advent! Last year I read “Come, Lord Jesus” by Kris Camealy, and this year one of the books I am planning to read is, “The Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp. I too like to find at least one thing new to read during the Advent Season. My way of looking can become so repetitive and hazy if I don’t allow the Lord to stir the new within me. Your poem touches that deep place in me, as I reflect on that compass of God, splitting the dark from the light within my own heart. OH! What a precious Savior we have. May you be blessed with His glorious light and strength Dear Friend! Blessings, love, and hugs to you! xoxo

    1. Dear Bettie, I’m so glad you were blessed and inspired here! I’ve been dipping into another Ann Voskamp book recently – Be the Gift. Her words are rich, inspiring and poetic. I hope to savour The Greatest Gift as well. Though I need to rein in my book buying tendencies for the time being, so it looks like one to earmark for next year instead! So many books and too little time is a constant dilemma for a book lover, isn’t it? I love how you have moved the compass concept in my poem forward with considering how God also splits “the dark from the light” in our souls. Great insight, my friend! How we need the laser-light power of God to burn within and produce the healing required. Blessings of rest and strength and love and hugs to you too! xoxo 💜

  2. I love your creativity, Joy, and the spiritual truths you find in paintings. 🙂 This stanza especially touches my heart:
    “This very act of reaching out speaks
    of God’s compassion and grace,
    his innate desire to share his love,
    his aching heart for the human race.”
    It awes me how deep God’s compassion and grace is for us. Thank you for encouraging my heart today. Advent Blessings and hugs to you!

    1. Trudy, paintings are like windows on life. They’re glimpses of moments that often convey more than the moment itself. I find that reading a work of art is rather like reading a poem. Both speak to our emotions, to the deepest places in our souls, with intimations of eternal truth and an invitation to seek it out for ourselves. It is a creative act, though I hadn’t really considered it as such until I read your thoughtful comment. I’m glad you found a stanza that touched your heart. God’s compassion and grace never fail to move me to awe and wonder. Our hearts can scarce take it in. Advent blessings and hugs returned to you, dear friend! xo 💜

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