preparing for advent

My fondest memories of advent are from the year that I spent in a Benedictine Monastery. The Sisters of St. Benedict really knew how to do Advent right! The monastery was imbued with a sense of stillness and peace, of patient and watchful waiting. Nature collaborated in setting the tone for the season, blanketing the grounds and trees with sound-muffling snow. Music from the Monks of Weston Priory was a favorite at the time. A current album was titled Winters Coming Home. To this day, the image on the album cover and the title song goes through my head on those deep, still, winter days; when shades of white blend into blue.

Winter not only comes home here on the prairies. She`s often the guest that overstays her welcome. By April we`re ready to send her packing! Yet, in these early days of winter the freshness of the snow and crisp temperatures invite us into coziness. The challenge is to find the silence within.

How do we find monastic silence in our homes? How do we make room for Advent stillness in the midst of pre-Christmas craziness? For me, I need to be intentional in limiting my computer time. I need to leave my iPhone and iPad in another room so it`s not at arm`s reach throughout the day. I need to turn the TV off more often. I have to try running outside without my iTunes playlist blaring in my brain.

I just realized that this sounds more like a list of Lenten resolutions. And, we all know how bad I am at keeping those! I know that I can`t give up all these things. But, hopefully, I can put them aside a bit each day to make room for listening.

7 thoughts on “preparing for advent

  1. Yes undeed the ‘past’. Hard to believe almost 20 years ago. Miss those early days of my return to the Church. That child like faith, much simpler days. We are forever grateful for the mentorship you and David provided, and God is good, giving you this blog to continue evangelizing! Have a blessed Advent.

  2. What this topic brings to mind for me is one of the many forms of perfectionism that appears to epidemic among so many of us today. It is the form of perfectionism that shape-shifts into, “I must always have a purpose and I should always be making progress”. When actually no one can make progress all the time, there are seasons of planting and harvesting, and there are seasons of allowing things to rest and be fallow. Part of this form of shape-shifting perfectionism is thinking I should always be growing, and when I am not growing I have somehow failed. Could it be that our own “earth” has to be fallow for a while, and nothing should be growing at this time?

    Those who suffer this form of perfectionism have to discover their own rhythm of fallow seasons, when they are not reading the latest things, not involved in deep conversations, not growing, to consider that maybe there are times to do nothing. Is there a secret productivity of doing nothing? Do we need time for our life experiences, and new learning, to consolidate? The solution for this affliction is the “Spirituality of Waiting”. With Isabella we need to remember Advent and Lent, when the Church teaches waiting as spiritual practice. The Buddhists have a wisdom story of the foolish farmer who tries to hurry up the growth by pulling the plants up higher.

    With Isabella’s “Monks of Weston” there is something “right” about this welcoming winter home.

  3. There is so much wisdom here, Ray. Perfectionism so often follows on the heels of passion. When we are deeply involved in our tasks and works, it takes a strong intentionality to step back and embrace `fallow time`…a time to rest, to allow new growth to gently germinate deep within. If only we recognized this wisdom more often. It might prevent a lot of burn out in our daily lives.

    Thanks so much for these insights, Ray!

  4. Isabella, your poetic images pulled me into the blog today!
    “…winter days; when shades of white blend into blue…”
    “… the freshness of the snow and crisp temperatures invite us into coziness…”
    “… find the silence within…”
    I have been wanting to create a “prayer space” other than my computer screen because lately I have been so often lured into checking “just this one little email….” and then of course, I quickly get sucked into peeking into more messages–“for just a minute!” OK, I am off to get that place nested in another room RIGHT NOW!
    Thanks for the push!

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