Advent has officially begun for another year. In the midst of an overflowing brain and a full season, I am so thankful that I have given myself and my family the gift of simplicity. Advent is not meant to be a burden or something else to add to an already crowded to-do list. What is it about our human nature that draws us to make it that?
A few days in and I already have a couple of favourite moments in my Advent days. The first is the pause in front of a lit candle. There is nothing fancy about my Advent wreath made out of bits and pieces I already had. There is nothing complicated about the Advent reading plan and music that accompanies it. My soul craves those moments of pause and stillness before the day ramps up. The simple practice of lighting a candle, reading a short passage of Scripture and reflecting on where I see God in my day is life-giving.
The other favourite moment in my Advent days is when my daughter excitedly brings me the Truth in the Tinsel clue for the day and begs me to read it to her while she colours in her ornament. The Shrinky Dink version has been a huge hit too! Our conversation is sweet and it helps us both to remember what this season is about. It provides a guaranteed connection point before we have to go our separate ways for the day.
A confession? As much as I love the simple practice of pausing, it is actually really hard to do. I can tell how wound up my soul and mind are at the moment but the struggle to be still for even a few minutes. My mind wants to wrestle with logistics, plans, to-do lists and what ifs. My heart wants to wrestle with emotions pushed to the side. My brain is pulled down rabbit trails constantly. Rather than give up, I am leaning in more. I am putting into practice the mindfulness strategies I have learned- being aware of my thoughts and letting them drift rather than fighting with them.
Maybe you are in a similar situation where your brain is full, your days feel crammed and your soul is desperate for a reprieve. What is a simple practice that you could embed in just a few moments of your day to re-centre yourself, remind yourself of what is true and good and settle your soul? If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up over it but simply start again. Maybe there needs to be a creative element for you, a physical action, music or silence. We are all unique and find different things refreshing. Find yours.
I was reminded this week of an opportunity that I have not been taking advantage of often. There is something about sitting or walking next to the ocean that shoots peace and lightness into my heart. I live within a five-minute drive of this amazing part of creation. And yet, I rarely go. I rarely carve out the time in my days to pause by the sea. My younger self would be so mad at me! (I grew up in Zimbabwe, completely land-locked.) We are so quick to take what we have access to for granted! I am setting myself a goal of getting by the ocean at least once a week, even if it is only for a few minutes on my way somewhere. Hold me accountable?
I would love to support you in your journey to take care of yourself in the midst of this season. I know that when I put my goals and plans out there, it helps me to follow through. This is an invitation for you to do the same. Share what you are doing to pause during Advent in the comments or message me through social media.
I am participating in a weekly creativity challenge throughout summer run by the amazing Amanda Viviers. You are welcome to join us through the writing, photography and making prompts. Do one or all three each week! See Amanda’s blog for more details.