Students often focus on discovering the origins of words as part of their study of a given subject. What might await us if we explore what I will call “the four basic verbs” of Advent? Let’s find out.
The Embassy of John the Grammarian in 829 – 12th/13th Century
The first “verb” isn’t a verb at all, at least not in the English form we know: Advent. Yet, to get to the root of the noun Advent, we have to go back to the Latin verb advenire, “to arrive” or “to come to” (from ad + venire). From there, we look at the past participle of advenire, namely adventus. English doesn’t offer an adjectival or adverbial form of “Advent,” unless you count “adventitia” – an anatomical term for a membrane, derived from the “coming from elsewhere” (hence extraneous). Or, you might like “adventitious” with several meanings, one zoological – “removed from the natural habitat” – and one botanical, referring to “buds in an abnormal position.”
Should we take one more step to “adventitiousness”? Probably not. We’ll be content with these origins for the noun Advent and look for other verbs.
Let’s try “prepare.” I have to tell you: “prepare” is one of my favorite verbs, because I don’t do it very well. But that means I have lots of room to improve, yes? “Prepare” is such a fine Advent verb: you might recall the beautiful anthem “Bereite dich Zion” (“Prepare thyself Zion”) from J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.
Prepare is derived from præparare – to do or set before. The root verb parare is a useful one. It makes me think about a paring knife and the idea of focusing on an action that, at first glance, seems insignificant (paring potatoes) but, in fact, serves the greater good (feeding one’s family). As an aside, emphasizing parare as a root has always helped my students spell “separate” correctly (you’d think college students would be past basic spelling problems, but they aren’t).
So what does “prepare” actually mean? I looked in my trusty 1983 Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, deluxe second edition (sounds quaint in the age of Wikipedia). There I found the following meanings for “prepare”: to make ready, suitable, to adapt, to train; 2) to make receptive, to accustom, 3) to equip or furnish with necessary provisions; 4) to put together, to construct, to compound.
Isn’t this the essence of education? Whether we are raising children or continuing in our own lifelong learning, we are constantly preparing. Now, in Advent, many of our actions are directed towards preparing for the birth of Christ.
Here are two more Advent verbs: “expect” and “anticipate.” I’ve always enjoyed the contrasts between these two. The Latin verb exspectarecombines spectare (to look) and ex (out). We think of “expect” meaning “to look out for something to happen or occur.” Yet, a more antique meaning is “to wait for” in the sense of waiting for military orders. That meaning may bring us closer to the idea of watching and waiting, as did Jesus’ mother Mary.
Contrast that with the Latin verb anticipare, which combines ante (before) and capare (to take). There are so many usages of “anticipate” – some positive, some less so. There’s the positive idea of “foresee, as a wish” or “foretaste.” Then there’s the idea of acting before something can happen, or acting to forestall an event. We can also anticipate what a person is about to do. It’s a more complicated verb than we might first realize.
What do all these roots and shades of meanings have to offer us? Well, if your children are big enough, send them to your trusty old dictionary, and encourage them to dig back to the basic components of these words. You might ask them to track how often they use these words during a day. How do they perceive the idea of anticipating, expecting, preparing, or “advent”-ing (as in something entering into their lives from somewhere else)?
For smaller children, you’re probably already doing plenty to help them prepare for Jesus’ birth. Maybe you’re employing an Advent calendar (or reading them selected essays from this one!). Maybe you’re gradually unpacking Christmas decorations or pulling out Grandma’s china in anticipation of Christmas Dinner. Or perhaps everyone’s enjoying the long-awaited smell of nutmeg and cinnamon as you prepare to bake cookies. Sight, sound, smell, taste, these all build our children’s expectations.
Cherish these annual acts of preparation and anticipation as effective ways to ready our hearts and minds for the Baby Jesus’ arrival.
Dr. Cortes Spanish III Class investigates @ OU's Art Museum, a Spanish Newspaper forthcoming
Reflect On Yesterday's Mission
Before moving on to your eleventh and FINAL mission, take a moment to reflect on yesterday’s mission. Which project or cause did your class choose to support, and why? What do you think they will do with your donation? Even if your donation is small, do you think it will make a difference? What other things could you do to make a difference for this cause?
7:30 am Bllod Drive 2015. By
Agents, your eleventh and final mission is here.
Do you know what a selfie of you looks like from outer space? Well, here it is.
It looks like the WHOLE PLANET! With every person and living being on it! It is the ultimate selfie.
No matter how you spin it, we are all connected to one another. This means we all depend on each other to respect and care for the Earth so that it can continue to sustain our life, the lives of our loved ones, and the lives of all living beings!
So… your eleventh and FINAL mission, Agents, is to discover ways you can give back to the Earth, our one and only home.
You can do this as an individual Agent or as a Team. As an Agent, be extra mindful of the impact you have as you go about your day. Recycle whenever possible, and compost food instead of throwing it into a garbage where it will go to a landfill. Pick up litter on the ground to protect the wildlife, and avoid littering at all costs!
As a Team, you can organize a service project to help make the Earth healthier. Organize a project where you plant trees to absorb carbon from the atmosphere while making the land more beautiful, or volunteer to clean up a nearby park or beach. Plant a garden to grow healthy, organic food, and donate some of the food to a local food shelter. The sky is the limit...
Good luck, Agents.
This is your final mission! If you haven't already begun to do so, report and share your experiences on the Compassion Report Map! We have already started to see meaningful and inspiring examples of what compassion looks like when brought to life by you and your team of Agents around the world!
Research shows that adolescents who volunteer their time and talents reduce their risk of heart disease, as well as experience higher levels of positive emotions, a stronger ability to regulate their emotions, lower levels of risky behavior such as early pregnancy and drug use, increased civic engagement and moral reasoning, and a greater likelihood of volunteering in adulthood. Learn more about the social and wellbeing benefits of service projects.