The word advent is part of the word 'adventure.' From the Latin adventura, it means something that is about to happen. We think of Advent as the season that tells us that what is about to happen is Christmas! The problem is, we're focusing more on Christmas than Advent. The number of demands and expectations that surround the coming of Christmas have made many 'opt out' of all the festivities in order to avoid the stress that goes along with all that Christmas has come to mean in contemporary culture. Others try to keep up with it all and are exhausted by the end of the season. One way to strike a balance is to prepare for Christmas (decorating, shopping, cooking, wrapping presents, and such) but with your soul steeped in Advent noiselessness. Advent occurs in the winter; it is a time of 'hunkering down,' and waiting. It is a time of darkness and silence. Yet, the Christmas frivolity and associated chaos can strip those powerful times of interior quiet from us. Here are four tips for staying in the Advent/Christmas balance:
- Take 2 minutes at the beginning of the day, and at the close of the day to go outside (no matter how cold it is) and breathe in the chilly air, and feel the silence of the sky.
- Carry Psalm 131:3-4 in your heart: "I still my soul and make it quiet. Like a child upon its mother's breast; my soul is quieted within me. Wait for God, from this time forth for evermore." Several times a day, take a deep breath in and relax; repeat the verses; take another deep breath in and relax; notice the quiet in your soul.
- Look for the places of silence around you -- the interior of your car when you're driving alone, the bathroom, your office cubicle, your kitchen in the middle of the night. It's not easy to find places of silence these days, but giving special attention to looking for them during Advent will yield a powerful reward.
- Make as little noise as possible when you do things like eating, doing the dishes, walking through the house. Notice what it is like to leave a quieter 'footprint' in your world. When you live more noiselessly, you’ll find your inner noise is quieted as well.