This year’s personal Advent theme seems to be one of finding a way to be still. Quiet. To take the time to rest in God. It’s not easy any time of the year, but THIS time of year? It’s quite the challenge. As the days swiftly pass (and this isn’t your imagination, it’s the gradually shortening amount of daylight that seems to aid the perception of time just whizzing by), the period of Advent can be a time where we simply get caught up in the whirlwind around us. Or, if you like a visual, imagine a giant snowball rolling down a very long snow-covered hill, right at you. You turn and run, casting furtive glances over your shoulder, only to find that no matter your effort, that snowball is gaining on you with each passing second. And it is growing! Then before you know it, you are swallowed whole, and the snowball continues on with no evidence you were ever there except maybe the odd mitten or boot protruding from its exterior!
We get caught up in the shopping. The decorating. The finances. The baking. The volunteering. The parties. Or maybe even the lack thereof! We have obligations to fulfill. It can be overwhelming. So I had to ask myself, how on earth am I ever going to find time for quiet? How can I center myself on God routinely, with everything swirling out of control around me?! (The shopping isn’t done, no wrapping has begun, there’s not a single home-baked good in my house, and I have got to get some organizing and laundry accomplished.)
As I have shared in many of my workshops, sometimes all you need is a little plan. A routine. Set aside a few minutes. For me, over the course of the past several months, I have been caught up in multi-tasking through dinner in order to get things done. What a bad habit! Maybe I’m catching up on something I had to read. Or I might be answering emails. Balancing my checkbook? Returning a phone call? Eating while standing?! You BET!
Ah-hah! Here’s my plan, my moment, my opportunity if you will. I resolved that I would actually sit down to eat my dinner each day at the dining room table. I would light the appropriate number of Advent candles. I would set aside all temptation to multi-task, and even if just for the moments that I was actually eating, do nothing else. Nothing. I want to break out in an anxiety sweat just thinking about it, but so far, two full weeks in, it’s worked! The key is to also know that from time to time, your plan may not work perfectly. For example, there has been a night or two where I wasn’t home for dinner, but I refused to let myself feel guilty about that. These things happen!
The important thing is that on a daily basis, in some way, I am making time. Time to just sit, reflect, relax. Let go! Rest in the Lord. Listen. And despite the fact that I am in no way ready for the holiday, externally, I feel so much more ready, INTERNALLY. Let’s face it, we can’t control everything that happens around us. But we can control what we have on the inside. So for the rest of this Advent season, focus on making what is inside calm, still, peaceful, and loving. A good place to work on that if you need suggestions? In front of the Blessed Sacrament. Or in preparation for the sacrament of Reconciliation. You won’t regret it.
Happy (and Quiet) Advent!