The Advent of God’s Word: Listening for the Power of the Divine Whisper—A Daily Retreat and Devotional

Quiet your heart and listen for the loving whispers of God through this daily Advent retreat experience. Offers compelling reflections on the season's traditional scripture readings and creative ways to let God's word sink deep into your heart and soul, including journaling with mandalas, audio divina and meditative movement.

Rev. Dr. Brenda K. Buckwell, Obl. OSB

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6 x 9, 208 pp | 978-1-59473-576-9

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Quiet your heart and listen for the loving whispers of God during the Advent season.

“The weeks leading up to Christmas are often hectic times preparing for the holy celebration of Jesus’ birth. This book provides an opportunity for you to pause, take a refreshing breath of the Holy Spirit, and look beyond the surface of the lights and glitter to notice the inward shaping of Jesus’ virtues of hope, love, joy and peace for faithful living. It sets a course for daily retreat and devotional living into the new era for hope and unity in the heart of Christ.”

—from the Introduction

Are you missing out on the true meaning and mystery of Advent amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season? Rev. Dr. Brenda K. Buckwell, Obl. OSB, invites you into a daily retreat experience, offering inspiring reflections, fresh perspectives on the season’s traditional scripture readings and creative ways to let God’s word sink deep into your heart and soul. With prayer practices that engage the senses and guidance in creating a visual reflection in response to each day’s reading, she helps you move beyond articulation of what you know of God to discover the possibilities awaiting you.

“Perfect for the way we really live in the holier seasons and outside of them. You will begin the church year again and again with it—and find the renewal you need to be born again and again.”

Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper, senior minister, Judson Memorial Church, New York City; coauthor, Labyrinths from the Outside In: Walking to Spiritual Insight—A Beginner’s Guide

“Mature, inspiring spiritual guidance.... An imaginative framework of weekly practices, scriptural companions and questions ... leads seekers to embrace the personal call to further realize and live from their own true self in Christ.”

Rev. Tilden Edwards, founder and senior fellow, Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation

“Timely ... based on solid biblical and historical theologies.... Will lead your faith community and family to an exciting yet reflective Advent adventure.”

HiRho Y. Park, PhD, DMin, director of clergy lifelong learning, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, United Methodist Church

“Packed full of creative resources that entice us to dig deeper into the spirit of Advent through the employment of rich, transformative practices.... Truly a welcome gift!”

Wil Hernandez, PhD, Obl. OSB, executive director, CenterQuest; author, Mere Spirituality: The Spiritual Life According to Henri Nouwen

“Expands on historic spiritual practices.... With detailed and supportive guidance ... makes a personal or group Adventure seem possible. This engaging book inspires me to make my next Advent different.”

Rev. Martha Spong, editor, There’s a Woman in the Pulpit: Christian Clergywomen Share Their Hard Days, Holy Moments and the Healing Power of Humor

“Brenda Buckwell’s generous spirit guides us as we listen afresh for the divine birthing in our hearts this Advent. Be inspired with new perspectives ... [and] the whispers of Divine love.”

Dwight H. Judy, PhD, professor emeritus of spiritual formation, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

“A new adventure in Advent with art, music, visuals and movement enriching scripture and spiritual practice. This holy preparation will make your life and Christmas ‘calm and bright.’”

Rev. Larry Peacock, author, Openings: A Daybook of Saints, Sages, Psalms and Prayer Practices; executive director, Rolling Ridge Retreat Center

“A focused, creative invitation to a deeper spiritual journey.... Can help you step aside from the cultural chaos of Christmas..... A fine resource for Bible study and adult education groups in many settings.”

Peter Bankson, coauthor, Calling on God: Inclusive Christian Prayers for Three Years of Sundays; longtime steward of Seekers Church, Washington, DC

“Mary and Elizabeth”

Native American Flute Music for Audio Divina Practice
Composed and Performed by Rev. Dr. Karen Covey Moore


What inspired you to write this book?
The season of Advent has always been exceptionally special for me. I grew up in a family that participated in the at-home wreath-lighting liturgy every Sunday evening during Advent. From my earliest memory, the glow of the candlelight shimmered with the beauty of God’s presence as the scripture was read and the prayers said. I yearned to experience more and more of God’s grace and love as the season moved slowly toward the Christmas celebration of Jesus’ birth. When I married and had a family of my own, it was my great joy to pass this tradition on to my children. I wrote this book to share my deep love for God with you and to invite you to enter into a similar joy of the Advent season and gain deep anticipation of Jesus’ new birthing in your life. My prayer has been woven through the pages of this book for you, that you too may experience the shimmering delight of God’s presence as the Advent candles are lit.

Which of the four creative arts practices do you enjoy the most and why?
That is a really difficult question. For me each creative arts experience—icon gazing, lectio divina, audio divina and meditative movement—brings great joy to my life. I find myself immersed in God’s presence when I practice them. I virtually get lost in God when participating in the creative experience. I think icon gazing would be my first love at this season in my life. I enjoy art. Often with icon gazing, the first thing I do upon waking is gaze into the eyes of Jesus. His gaze holds my heart fast. I find when I start my day that way Jesus’ presence is carried in my attention most of the day.

Do you draw mandalas as a regular spiritual practice?
About ten years ago, I was in a season in my life of truly seeking a “beyond words” experience of God. I knew God was close to my heart but didn’t always have the words to articulate God’s nearness. So for three years, during that span of time while seeking God beyond the perceptions of my intellect and understanding, I drew mandalas nearly daily. It brought such joy and freedom to my heart. Each mandala gave rise to new insights on my adventure of faith in love with Jesus. As that season of life passed, I found myself creating mandalas only a couple times a week. For a long time after that I went back and forth between drawing mandalas and writing with words in my journal. At this time in my life, I join my community—St. Brigid of Kildare Methodist-Benedictine Monastery—in praying the Daily Office and I find great stability of God’s presence in the written word. I still create mandalas, but the frequency has lessened to about once or twice a month or special times when God leads me to experience God beyond my intellectual understanding.

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Week 1: The Terrain for Whispers—Discerning the Landscape of the Heart
“The Advent journey is one of looking at both resistances and places of un-freedom in our lives. We also look for the dawning glimmers of God’s light, calling forth our attention as the Spirit sweeps over us, illumining the way through even the thickets, brambles and briars of our lives.” (page 12)

Take a contemplative pause today, and consider the condition of your heart as the Advent season draws near. What is the soil of your heart like as you prepare to receive Jesus’ new birth this season?

What color do you imagine the landscape of your heart is as you enter Advent?

Week 2: Whispering Songs of Expectation—Choice: Listening for the Transformational Whisper
“For me, lighting this second candle is a symbol of the human desire to live as Jesus lived, to love as Jesus loved. This way of loving is intentional and filled with choices.” (page 36)

Consider what habits of heart—little reactions, quirks or personality traits—regularly arise within your relationships. During this Advent season, what do you imagine you want to release to make more room in your heart for Jesus’ virtue of love?

How will you choose to love more purely, the way Jesus loves?

Week 3: Companions for the Journey—Deep Joy: Listening to the Soul’s Song
“The annual rhythm of lighting the Advent wreath anchors family and church life alike in soul-deep joy as we experience the cosmic Divine whisper of love.” (pages 76–77)

To whom do you turn to share your soul-deep joy in love of Jesus?

How do you hear God whispering to your heart?

Week 4: Celebrate! The Power of a Whispered Life—New Life Springs Forth
“Here in the anticipation of Jesus’ birthing, transformation of heart and soul is noticed for those who follow his ways and seek to live peace on earth.” (page 115)

Where do you desire Jesus’ transforming love to kiss your life with new possibilities?

When you let go of the past and enter into God’s preferred future, how do you experience hope, love, joy and peace?

Epilogue: The Adventure into the New Year—The Foundation for Daily Devotion
“It is my prayer that with this epilogue you will find ways to intentionally integrate your experience from this daily devotional and retreat during Advent into the power and presence of each day of this new year.” (page 154)

When you think about loving Jesus more deeply in the coming months of your life, what prayer practice is attractive to your soul?

How do you pray to mark special celebrations and events in your life?