What is purple, pink and white and only comes out once a year, four weeks before Christmas?
You may have thought of an Advent wreath, and whilst you would be correct, that is not the first response that is generated in my mind.
One of my indulgences in life is to paint my fingernails. I do this to stop biting them – a very bad habit. I decided years ago that I would try and paint my nails according to the Church’s liturgical season – because when one works for the Church, that is obviously what one does.
Now while this may sound very superficial, it has proved to be a very interesting exercise in evangelisation. As we are in the season of Advent, my fingernails are painted purple, pink, purple, purple and white. People ask all sorts of questions, “Why are your nails painted so many different colours?”, “Oh, Advent nails. Why is there a pink one?” and “What is with the white thumb?”.
And so begins the conversation about Advent. It is the opportunity to share with people that Advent is the time of anticipation for the coming of Christ. It even opened up the opportunity to ask someone, “Do you want to come to Mass with me today?”
The nails have also led to a great conversation with my kids. When I showed them my nails, they were very quick to inform me what each candle represented – hope, faith, joy and peace. “We learnt this at school,” they excitedly shared with me.
And what about that pink nail? This was a question asked of me recently. I shared that on the third Sunday of Advent we celebrate Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means “Rejoice,” hence the third candle represents joy. And whilst the colour is actually supposed to be rose, pink is close enough!
Most people can guess that the white thumb represents Christmas – representing the light and purity that Christ offers. By the time we reach this part of the conversation, there is a smile and a nod of approval for my Advent fingernails.
For me, it is the opportunity to remember a few things in this Advent season. Looking at my nails reminds me that I need to pause, to slow myself down in this time of Advent and remember what, or rather who, we are waiting for.
It reminds me that we have begun a new liturgical year and that we will be hearing a new cycle of readings at our Sunday Masses. I can learn so much more about Jesus and the mission we are called to be part of from the lens of a different Gospel writer. And even though I have heard these readings before, there is always something new to learn.
Advent also means that the end of the year is near and as I slow down, I recollect the year that has been. I give thanks for the opportunities that have come my way and the graces that I have been given this year.
All this has come from painting my fingernails in a particular way.
While this has been fun to do, it has shown me that everything we do in our lives can be intentional in sharing our faith. Even something as simple as painting one’s fingernails can be an opportunity to have a conversation about God and faith. And that has been so worth it.
Lisa is the Project Officer for the Pastoral Planning Office. The next big decision that Lisa has to consider is what colour to paint her nails for the Christmas season. All suggestions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org