We have always done a Jesse Tree during Advent. It helps keep the focus on our time of waiting and preparing for the little Lord Jesus. Just as we wait now, the Israelites waited – only their wait was centuries long. The Jesse Tree tries to illustrate through the use of symbols and Old Testament stories the long wait of the Jewish people. Symbolism is the language of the Church, and the Jesse tree is one of the most visually beautiful and symbolic ways I know of to illustrate the long march to “the fullness of time.” From Adam and Eve forward the Chosen people were always anticipating the coming of their Messiah.
I usually use a wire frame tree to hang handmade symbols that each represent a different story from the Old Testament. I’ve wanted something for a while now that better represented the chronological progression of time, and hanging our ornaments “willy-nilly” on the wire tree wasn’t doing that.
Then, I read this thread from the creative ladies at 4Real. They saw something that utterly intrigued and captured my imagination – an Advent Spiral. I immediately thought of my Jesse Tree. The spiral is a prevalent symbol in Christian iconography and usually represents Divinity – sometimes God the Father, sometimes the Holy Spirit. I loved the spiral, and it seemed to beg for me to somehow translate it into a Jesse Tree – for a lot less $$! Here’s how we did it:
The base is a pre-cut piece of pine I found at Lowe’s for $10. It was already round, and had nice routed edges. I bought 3 dowels for another couple of bucks, and bought a small can of wood stain. We headed up to my folks for Thanksgiving. That’s where my extremely talented and generous brother and husband could translate the rest of my design into something useful in the workshop. My brother found the stump in the “back 40” – ok – “back 4 1/2” for me. The results are amazing.
I wanted the dowels to ascend to the stump of Jesse – I really thought that would be too much trouble, but my visionary mom insisted thinking it vital to the design, so I had the courage to request it. The hardest part I think was the spacing of the dowels in the design of a spiral. That depended so much on the size and placement of the stump in the center.
I really wanted the last 5 dowels to be very close to the stump. The symbols for the last five dowels were to be representative of Jesse, David, Solomon, Joseph and Mary. You can see why I wanted them close. In the end, I asked the guys to drill the hole for Mary’s dowel right into the base of the stump. I’m pleased with how it came out.
Scotch double sided tape sticks very firmly to the top of the dowels and securely held my laminated symbols. I am wondering if in the future I might make something a little more three dimensional – felting perhaps? If there is a desire, we may tackle it a bit this Advent. I’m also hoping to incorporate the O’Antiphons onto the spiral in some way.
The end result is a beautiful representation of the march through time of God’s Chosen people. It spirals ever upward, and closer to that point in time when a shoot comes forth from the stump of Jesse and God became man. I’m so thankful to you ladies at 4Real for the original inspiration, for my generous and always willing husband, and my immensely talented brother.