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The On Being Project

Image By Zoltán Vörös
Introverted Advent and Postcards for Hanukkah: Letting Thankfulness and Light Prevail

Introverted Advent and Postcards for Hanukkah: Letting Thankfulness and Light Prevail

We’ve just returned to U.S. soil after a quick trip to St. Gilgen, a quaint village in the Austrian Alps outside of Salzburg, to interview the sage Benedictine monk, Br. David Steindl-Rast. What a journey and I’m so anxious to produce this interview for our podcast!

A young girl holds a candle at Christmas time at Scone Palace. (Zöe Barrie / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved.)

Austrians are celebrating Advent in full force — both culturally and religiously — especially in Vienna and Salzburg. Siri Liv Myhrom thinks of Advent as a robust “shoulder season” in her marvelous essay on Christmas being an extrovert, while Advent is an introvert’s season:

“Advent is expectant and full of hope. There’s also a solemn quality to the waiting — not dour or dreary — something grounded and okay with a close stillness, a quality that honors the waiting itself as sacred.”

Read more essays from this series reflecting on Advent in the coming weeks. And submit your story too.

(Matthew Septimus)

“We don’t tell one another thank you often enough. Thank you is its own kind of light.”

It’s also the final days of Hanukkah. The lovely poems of Esther Cohen and and brilliant photos of Matthew Septimus come together again this year for our second sequencing of Postcards for Hanukkah. They remind us of the importance of light, and to find it wherever we can: in strangers, in family, in friends. Please share this light!

Krista Tippett interviewing Br. David Steindl-Rast in St. Gilgen, Austria. (Trent Gilliss / Instagram.)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t share a few of our favorite quotable gems from Krista’s interview with Brother David Steindl-Rast to lead you into the rest of your day:

“You have to have anxiety to be courageous. Without anxiety there is no courage.”


“Joy is the happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.”


“The mystic is not a special human being; every human being is a special kind of mystic.”

And, please, continue submitting your essays and commentaries, photos, and videos. Reading and publishing your many perspectives is an absolute privilege.

Want to say hello or tell me what I need to do better or differently? Drop me a line at [email protected], or via Twitter at @trentgilliss.

May the wind always be at your back.

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