Christmas is coming to the Béguinage

This third Sunday in Advent had Kom oh Kom Immanuel for the Eucharist hymn a sure sign Christmas – or Kerstmis – is coming. All the familiar readings, no matter the language, remind us of the coming birth of our Savior on earth, and tell us to prepare a way in the wilderness and make straight the highway for our God.

When the flight reservations for Bruges were made, Christmas had to be included. I secretly wanted to spend Christmas in an 800-year-old Béguinnage. I wanted to see snow in the courtyard like on so many of the postcards. (I have not yet seen the snow covered courtyard, but I have hope!) One day at early Lauds some snow sprinkles checkered the grass but they were gone when I came out of church.

This Saturday there appeared a clatch of tattered cardboard boxes piled in the corner of the recreation room from whence appeared a 3-foot tall Mary with a red sock and a Baby Jesus with somewhat wrinkled swaddling clothes and blanket. These were not for the church I was assured but for our recreation room, and the accompanying Joseph would indeed appear, and all would be garnered into loveliness befitting the arrival of Baby Jesus. The attic light was left on well into the dark – another universal sign to all that Kerstmis is indeed coming. Two evergreen trees lie perched against the church next to the Sisters’ entrance waiting for a specific Christmas robing and mission at which I can only guess at the moment. Small gifts have begun to appear; the violinist who plays occasionally before Vespers sent homemade candies tasting faintly of liqueur in a beautifully hand-decorated bag. Yes Kerstmis, the birth of our Savior, is coming to the monastery – and I will be here!

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