Advent

Advent. The attempt to slow. things. down. just as the insane Christmas season is ramping up. Why does the month of December always seem to go at warp speed till Christmas?

In committing to focus on slowing down and be more intentional about how I spend my time, I entered Advent season as I typically do with new beginnings: with a list. Of rules. These things I’ll do, these things I’ll refrain from doing.

Advent devotional to read with Tim. Advent devotional to read by myself. Advent cards to go over twice daily with Annelise. Go through the Daily Office every day for Morning Prayer. Compline with Tim? Light the advent wreath. Buy all Christmas presents early. Have great Christmas music playing in the background 24/7. Invite people over for dinner. Really make sure Annelise gets the Christmas story (hi, shes 2). Restart the gratitude journal. Start a new book on hoopla: Emily P. Freeman’s Simply Tuesday but the narrator sure talks slow – can we speed up her voice? I miraculously refrained, using even this as a discipline.

With my headphones on, we went out for a walk.

And saw this:

You know those times where nature is just gorgeous and you can’t help but just. slow. down. and maybe even stop and maybe even take a deep breath and maybe even snap a photo to remind yourself for later that life is really, actually, good?

Then when Tim got home from work we took a little walk to the school playground near our house, and I looked up and saw this:

As my Aunt Catherine said,when pointing at the gorgeous sky, “it’s like the WHOLE WORLD! Right there!” Those moments we’re reminded how small we are and how great it is to be alive and how many sunsets have I missed when I’m scurrying around the house instead of taking a little break to play on the playground.

I’m searching for this balance, I’m veering away from the rat race, I’m snapping those photos because my memory is pretty foggy these days, and I’m whittling down that ironically long to do list as I keep up the fight to simplify and be present.

How’s your advent going thus far?

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

-from To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue

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