Hi friends – HAPPY ADVENT! Yes, I know a few days late….. which is sorta my thing – but certainly made worse with the combo of hospital life followed immediately by a crazy work week…. all in all – it’s late, but only by 4 days so we are ROLLING WITH IT!
Something about Advent and Lent brings me back to my Catholic School upbringing where we would color pictures or memorize vocabulary or write a paper – whatever most matched our age to help us learn more about this important season in our faith. For my non-Catholic friends its sorta like one big New Year’s Eve twice a year. You spend time trying to improve your commitment to your faith, your core, and remember why you identify with being Catholic to begin with. There are certainly quite a few traditions that are followed by us all: Advent Wreath or no meat on Lenten of Fridays, but one of my favorite parts, that does remind me of resolutions, is how you can personalize the rest of your experience (And for any of my old school Catholics, like if my Ganmommy read this blog, this is sorta new. It used to be a little more structured…. but I LOVE that the church recognizes the importance of identifying with the experience, so folks are better off making their own plan. Maybe us Catholics aren’t quite as rigid as you might think – always happy to share more if you are intersted 🙂). This means some folks give things up, add prayers or readings, follow a seasonal devotional, participate in a work of mercy (visit the sick, give to the poor) – just to name a few options. And in fact I have found with social media the options are even more plentiful. So yes, I may return to my roots of memorization and word definitions – but this season has a whole lot of new possibilities too.
No matter how you choose to celebrate, the most important themes I find for Advent are the ideas of waiting and preparation. We are literally waiting for the birth of our savior. Waiting is such a constant in the lives of us humans – its an experience we can all relate to and we all are very familiar with the ripple effects it has on our lives. Worry, excitement, anxiety, fear, the need for a plan – when you can’t really make one, the desire to have everything perfect – even if we know its not possible ….. waiting points to our humanity faster than most things in this life…. so how funny that it is associated with the part of the story where the Lord becomes “human and dwells among us”. I have found that leaning into the waiting of this season, using this time to explore an area you feel you are waiting and give it to God, is an excellent way to connect to your faith. This post is where I discovered this reality the most.
The second theme that I find strongest in this season is preparation. In our faith we are literally told to “prepare our hearts for Jesus”, which we know really means – prepare our whole selves because to change the heart the mind and body have to be on board too. How interesting those are the instructions and at this time of year our secular world is all about preparation: the decorations, the tree, the house, the food, the gifts, the greetings…. we all seem to need to be preparing for all the things – but are we also making time to prepare for THE thing? Again I love how such an easy human emotion that is extremely prevalent in our lives at this moment, can bring a deeper understanding of our faith. Maybe the teachings of the bible…. from a time when things were very different…. aren’t really that hard to relate to after all: people are just people.
If you are interested in a different type of advent, I wanted to share a few of my favorite resources:
Matthew Kelly’s Daily Email Advent Lesson: Each day you receive a little video on a lesson right to your email that is Advent specific.
Gratitude Journal: Each day as part of The Last 90 Days program I write 10 things I am grateful for …. it has been HUGE especially for the hard days. It can change you attitude, influence your outlook, and motivate how use your day. The hardest part is just getting in the habit of it.
Jesus Calling Book: This is a daily prayer book, not just for Advent, but I have found the daily reading a source of comfort, inspiration, and knowledge for years! Plus if I am on the go, I also have it in the app version. Daily I am assured that for a quick few minutes I have a chance to center myself with God’s words.
Journal to God: Over the years I have journal prayed to God and found that it helps to clear my mind, reduce worry and anxiety, and contribute to the feeling that faith is a conversation. This year, I have made it a much bigger priority and since October a part of my daily AM routine…. it has been life changing. And remember it doesn’t have to be a diary to capture EVERY LITTLE THING – in fact I will grab it multiple times a day if I am feeling worried or just need to get a thought that is swirling around in my head out. If I only have 60 seconds, I have found a way to plug in and the resulting peace is everything.
Advent is a short season and during a very busy time in our lives. But I encourage you as we all do our best to remember the reason for the season, and that it isn’t about doing everything perfect, to find a daily way to recenter with faith. It could be your best Christmas yet….
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!