The beginning of Advent is four days away.
There was a time in years past when Advent was celebrated as a penitential season, a season for righting wrongs, for sacrifice. And in some parts of the world and in some churches, that idea is still present.
We like to think of it more as a time for preparation. For slowing down, reviewing the year, pausing long enough to recognize the changes in our lives. To recognize the new church year that begins with Advent.
And yet, with Thanksgiving so late this year, the latest really it can be, the time between one celebration and the celebration of Christmas is short by several days. I suppose that means less time for shopping and listing and decorating, and yes, it means that.
But it also means fewer days of reflection, of time to stop, to pause. And those are in short enough supply already
It’s Wednesday, and on my list of to-dos is pre-dinner preparation for tomorrow so things won’t be quite so frazzled. But I also have papers to grade before classes begin the end of the semester run next week; and a grant to finish for the small press on which I serve, and poems to revise for a book in preparation, and lists to make for Christmas. And oh, yes, decorations to carry from the basement and a tree to cut down and bring home, and a loan to begin processing for an addition up on the farm.
I know. Your list is probably much longer than mine. Most of us are pushed to the maximum of what we can accomplish. And it’s already been a full over-the-top year.
So how do we stop long enough to prepare for a new beginning?
My Advent practice, as is my Lenten practice, is to post a meditational piece first thing each morning. We’ll call it the Road to Bethlehem although that’s a title I’ve borrowed. The road is rocky, less than clearly marked, donkey-slow in a jet-plane age, but as with any journey, we begin.
With one step.
If you have the time, you can journal with me; and if you’re not a journal writer, pause and reflect. What soul tasks have you accomplished this year? What’s left undone? What needs to move off your pathway in order to proceed more clearly?
- Getting ready…for advent (fechaplaincy.wordpress.com)