Sunday, December 14, 2014
A few weeks ago I shared with you my struggle this Advent about the clutter in my stable. My soul-searching questions on what to do with the messiness of my life and heart this season.
I considered giving up Facebook or Pinterest. (umm...ok. I take that back. I didn't actually consider giving up Pinterest, not even for a brief moment.) I tried decreasing my cell phone use. I bought Scott Hahn's new book Joy to the World. (hashtag: favorite Catholic author.)
And those were good things to do and to give up.
But I ended up taking a different route this Advent...a different path to Bethlehem, perhaps.
I chose a word.
Just one word. My thoughts and goals and desires stripped down to one single word to simplify my season and focus.
(Now since you are reading this instead of hearing it, I can't use the play on words that I did at an Advent presentation for my parish the other night about presents vs. presence. Just pretend and we'll move on.)
I want to be aware of God's presence in my life. In my day. Because that's Emmanuel, God with us. He really is with us every moment. He with us right now--you at your computer, me at mine...He's with us. We forget that, don't we? We're never alone. He is present. He is with us. He loves us.
In our busy lives, how often do we pause and remember that God is with us? It's a gift. And I think if we paused more often this month to remember that truth, it would help guide the choices we make, the gifts we buy, the ways we fill our schedule and spend the time.
I also wanted the word Presence to remind me to live in the present moment. I so often am thinking about the future, whether it's planning homemade Christmas gifts, my wedding next May, or even what I can find to make for dinner tomorrow night. I miss out on the gift and grace of the here and now. I forget to be grateful. There's only ever enough grace to live the moment. God has the rest in His hands. I think we feel less rushed when we live one day, one moment at a time. Instead of worrying or planning for tomorrow, I'm committing to simply accepting the gift of this day and living it with gratitude.
Finally I want the word Presence to call me to be more fully present to others. Maybe that's the cashier at Walmart (because I hate shopping there this time of year, you guys; too many people and carts, and too. much. stuff.)...maybe God is calling me to make conversation with her because she just lost her mom and is dreading the holidays. Maybe it's the patient I had last Monday who was recovering from a stroke. Her mind was healthy and hard at work but there was a disconnect as she struggled and tearfully stuttered her words. Watching her and helping her made me slow down and be more fully present to her than I had realized I could be. Afterwards, I noticed my whole being was more at peace, because I had slowed down, lived in the moment, been fully present to her, and saw Jesus in her.
Choosing this word and reflecting on it this season hasn't changed my life, but it has changed moments. It hasn't given me a spotless, decluttered manger-heart for Jesus to enter, but it has helped me look for Him more in my day and make more room for Him in my life.
Today may you be aware of God's presence with you personally right now, His love for you, His desire for you to experience Him and his hope, peace, and joy this Advent. Be in this present moment. Let Him speak to your heart. He always speaks with love. And being filled with Him, may you find moments this season to be more fully present to the hurting and needy around us.
Happy Gaudete (Joyful!) Sunday, dear friends. Life doesn't have to be perfect to be joyful, and neither do the holidays!