This December is the first time I’ve observed Advent. I mean really intentionally observed it.
While I love this season as much as anyone, I usually don’t make the most of it. I’m usually distracted by whatever it is I’m working on and, by the time Christmas comes around, I get swept up in whatever festivities are happening around me. I usually let other people curate my Christmas experience.
Not so this year.
I can remember coming to the end of almost every winter holiday season wishing that there had been more focus on Jesus. I felt sad that something that is so important in my life had been sidelined.
While I had the intention of celebrate his coming to Earth, my attention was elsewhere. It was on logistics and shopping and meeting friends and family members and cooking nice food.
Don’t get me wrong, all these things are good, it’s just that I have experienced them as distraction from the kind of space I actually want to inhabit. I want to be someone whose life isn’t hurried, but is deeply centred.
At times in church history, Advent has been used for fasting and reflection. It’s been a time in which decorations are kept to a minimum in order that we celebrate Jesus coming to a world that wasn’t prepared for him. Fleming Rutledge puts it this way:
The purpose of this withholding is to teach us that, in the birth of our Savior, we have received something that is beyond our deserving, beyond our preparations, beyond our human potential, beyond our expectations–that comes to us, in the words of beloved carols, in a “silent night,” in the “dark streets,” “in the bleak midwinter”Fleming Rutledge, Observing Advent
So this year, knowing that it won’t work to start pursuing centredness on Christmas Eve, I’ve decided to embrace Advent. I’m using it as a time of preparation for what is to come. I’m taking time for reflection and focus in the hope that this will influence my inner space by the time Christmas comes around.
One of the important factors in cultivating this space is reducing distraction. Instead of falling prey to the cacophony of voices that usually crowd, and shape, my imagination, I’m taking back control.
One of my sources of endless ideas and questions and opinions is Twitter.
Even though I deleted the app from my phone several months ago, it has continued to be one of my go-tos for new information.
But more than that, I’ve noticed that it’s been my go-to for a quick fix of distraction: an escape from my inner journey. And my inner landscape has been deforested by this incessant running away.
So this Advent I’ve decided to abstain from using Twitter.
I won’t be opening that particular tab on my web browser until after Christmas. And even though I have minor anxiety about missing out on some important news, I think things will be okay.
Hopefully, learning to spend more time reflecting on the things I choose to, rather than the things that are thrown at me, will mean that I have more to offer the world.
How about you? Are there things you do during this season to help you reflect? Leave a comment below or shoot me an email to share your advent practices.
Ps. for those of you who arrived here from Twitter and are wondering if you caught me cheating, that was an auto-post 🙂