Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent: doing and undoing

So, it's Advent.
Lots of folks will say, "It's Christmas time!"  Well, kinda...sorta.  But not really. Not yet.
The newspapers and commercials wanna shout it at ya.  They want you to get all up in a frenzy of "get it, buy it, wrap it, give it."  But first, the most important prep is interior.  Really.
As I try to prepare my home and kids for Christmas, for Christ-Mass, I need to first prepare my hard broken heart.  And if I can walk through this season mindfully, I can have my actions in prepping our home and kids be a real and active prayer.

Of course that means only if I can do it without stepping into that whirling dervish mode of christmas frenzy...complete with glassy stares in stores, aching feet, and griping  mouth.


That is my goal.
I usually fail.
Ok, ok, I have always failed.  Every year.
But, hope is eternal, right? I love that about hope, don't you??

 My sweet Hannah, long ago, but still adorable.  No I'm not at all biased either!

I have everything working against succeeding once again: crazy busy school schedules and activities for three different schools (four if you count the college boys), eight birthdays in this next month (four of them my own children, the other my dad, sis, etc), and oh yeah, the usual everyday crazies of doc appointments and laundry and, oh, cooking dinner and such. 

But even so, I want to slow it down.  Simplify.
I need to prepare myself to really be ready this Christmas. 
I need to prepare my stony selfish heart to be ready to set myself aside and welcome Christ, in the distressing disguise of the littlest among us (even in my children, whoa)

Little Sarahbird, tiny adorable girl practicing a Christmas pirouette long ago

I need to do this preparation so I will truly be able to rejoice.  No, not to rejoice that the last present is wrapped and the cookies cut out and the sinks of dishes done (well, maybe a little bit)...but instead to rejoice at the Incarnation, the mind blowing condescension of God himself to come to me.   Who'da thunk it?

So, this season is actually something of a penitential season, officially. (Easy jokes there, I know, of course it is: office parties, secret santas, shopping malls....let's talk penitential!).
But it's a season to let go of ourselves {Ok, myself} so we can welcome Himself.


So I have a New Year Resolution, Catholic Version: I will be trying to pray the morning and evening or night prayers, part of the Liturgy of the Hours, daily.  {And yes, I'm putting this up so I'll feel more accountable....I'm lazy like that.}
It helps ground me. It helps me breathe.  Too often I set it aside.  It gets dropped in the ordinary hectic squoosh of a given day, in my tired selfish desire to just drop into bed or surf the net if I find a moment.  So, this will have to be an intentional action.  Better than exercise even! It also connects me to my Chris, who is much better than I am about being regular and steady with this.  One more incentive for me, as if the Incarnation and prepping for it isn't enough.  Gads. 

Anyhow, that's my main Advent effort, or resolution, if you will.  Otherwise I will be calmly (um, yeah, really.....) trying to wrap up a simpler Christmas during this week or so and then being able to be present, really try to be present to the season, the kids, and the anticipation of Christmas.


We will light our Advent Candle/wreath every night for dinner.  I love this too. It's a pause, only a moment, really, but it's a pause, a short held breath at the end of a busy day.  This is a nightly reminder to come together, to slow and be present...to each other but also to the goodness of this season.  To stop and look and see each other, instead of only the whirling tasks and to do's.
We will slowly add a few Christmas items as we get closer and closer to the real Christmas season, December 24th; a nativity set here and there, wreaths, later, a tree.   It will bring that Incarnation closer in to our hearts and home and family as we wait together in Advent.
We will hopefully find those mindful moments together as we step toward Christmas and the evenings lengthen and chill, in the warmth of us around the table and in the flickering light of the candles at dinner.

It's Advent.
It's a time that we are pushed to whirl and twirl and spin ourselves dizzy with anticipation and preparation.
But, it's Advent.
And it's a time to try to still and slow and prepare and savor the quiet quickening of our hearts in anticipation and the most amazing moment, ever, almost upon us.
I love Advent.

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