Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent roses

Today is the first day of Advent, a four week season of waiting and preparation, a season for hoping and for growing in the virtue of hope. We remember Mary waiting for the birth of her Son and we wait for the return of her Son to judge and heal this wounded world. The usual Advent color is purple, but blue has also been used in the historical church, because of its association with Mary and with hopeful expectation.

Last year my husband and a friend made a plain blue advent stole for the priest of our little country church (not the church I attended until recently and describe here). A stole is like a beautiful scarf that hangs in two long panels down the front of the priest's robe. I have been wanting to beautify this stole since it was made, to tell a story on it.

So last week I began an embroidery project. I used gold thread to outline a budding rose stem on the bottom of both sides of the stole, which you see partly done in the photo. Each week of Advent a new rose will grow higher on the stole, each one opening wider than the one below it, until a fifth and final rose, a Christmas rose, fully opens. I'll show you again at Christmas when it is all done. This year it will be a simple design, just an outline of gold. Next year I will fill in details week by week.

I suppose I got the idea from the German Christmas carol, "Lo, how a rose e'er blooming." (Go here to listen to a performance by John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers or here for Sufjan Stevens.)

As I have been mulling over the design, thinking on roses and their perfume, on living petals fresh and cool like a baby's cheek and leathery dried petals dark red in bowls, scented with a sleepy, nostalgic, indoor sweetness, lines by T.S. Eliot have been rattling around my head:

Lady of silences
Calm and distressed 
Torn and most whole
Rose of memory
Rose of forgetfulness
Exhausted and lifegiving
Worried reposeful
The single rose
Is now the garden...

(from Ash Wednesday)


  1. What a wonderful idea. I like the way it will happen over the weeks and that you have plans for next year too. Sorry that I've fallen behind on your recent posts. Beautiful!

  2. Don't worry about it! I know you have things going on. I'm glad you like the idea. Thanks for stopping by!