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Matterdale Advent Spiral


Contemplation - Victoria Blease

Time for the Advent Spiral is something I like to carve out each year at the beginning of December.  As we go into the darkest days it is always a little haven in space and time during the busyness of the Christmas rush. 

The advent spiral reflects winter’s dark growing to a close and the renewed promise that spring light and life will begin again.

Advent (from the Latin ‘to come’) is the period of preparation and expectation starting four Sundays before Christmas. More a time for making ready, than celebration, it’s a time when we practice preparation, patience, and measured anticipation for the things to come. Years ago it was used for fasting and for inner reorientation. Today, this long festival still offers the space for peaceful contemplation, for finding oneself, even among all the outer preparations which may occupy us.

One dark room.  One lit candle at the centre of a spiral of greenery.  A gathering of friendship and celebration. Stillness. Silence.  Peace. 

A few words to set the scene and then to the sound of a simple song, sung over and over, we take our own candles one by one, light them from the source and set them down on the ground among the greenery.  Together we create a beautiful spiral of light and the room becomes gradually brighter. It is a great way to see how each little flame of light makes a visible difference! We sing some carols and share hot chocolate.

And then we leave, ready to step back into the fray of the world.  We walk home in the cold and all is right, all is bright in this moment. 

Reflections - Veronica Gore

One cold winters day in the late afternoon a group of about 30 of us, children, women and men, gathered at Thornythwaite Farm to walk up to Lucy’s Barn further up the valley to take part in the Advent Spiral.

We walked about a mile up the valley along the old paths in the frost and a late afternoon winters sun to the barn which is located in Lucy’s wood. Entering in the gloaming of the beautifully, but simply, restored barn, we took off our boots and silently took our places around the edge of the barn. In the centre of the barn a white cloth had been covered by a spiral of evergreen boughs and at its centre was a large candle.


This had been prepared by Victoria, who led the ritual. Victoria lit the central candle and then she gave each of us in turn a candle, and one by one we walked, following the boughs of the spiral, to the centre where we lit our candles at the central candle. We then carried on around the spiral to its end placing each lighted candle in turn on the spiral of


All the while we sang the following words

‘Winter is dark, yet each tiny spark
Brightens the way to Christmas Day.
Shine little light, and show us the way
To the bright light of Christmas Day’


As each candle was lit the light in the barn gradually increased until the light to the barn was restored. The singing, the increasing light, the sense of peace, leant itself to quiet contemplation. We then sang carols together and finally had some welcome hot chocolate and home made biscuits. On leaving we were confronted with the amazing view of the Matterdale valley and across to Plaice Fell and High Street, stark and beautiful in the very last light of the day and a thin sliver of a moon. Walking home in the cold in this quickly darkening sky was a delight.

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