Sunday, November 27, 2011

Advent 2011 - Peace

Advent - Peace

I always get a little excited for this weekend following Thanksgiving.  Growing up in my family is meant putting up the Christmas tree, bringing out the decorations, baking cookies, and finally, FINALLY starting the Christmas music (Andy Williams was one of my favorites).

These days the preparations are a little different, but I still love this season.  We still break out the music and the decorations (although now we have a live tree outside rather than bringing it into the house) but the reasons I love this time of year have changed from excitement, to nostalgia to an amazing sense of comfort and joy.

During my life as parish pastor I learned over and over how difficult this time can be for many people because of loss, stress, people pleasing, busyness . . . (the list could go on).  I know I have gotten caught up in a lot of those emotions and it makes for a really crumby time of year.  But the underlying factor of the preparation, and hope for the birth of the Prince of Peace gently (and sometimes not so gently) reminds me that I too can bring peace to the world - starting with myself.

It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and the expectations and the whirlwind of the season, but we can also choose to step out of the craziness - if only for a moment - and find peace.

listen to some quiet music
go for a walk, a slow run or find your way into a quiet park
write a list of things you are thankful for
hug your kid, your spouse, your dog
drink a cup of egg nog really slowly
read a passage of scripture (or a piece of writing from one of your role models) and let it sit in your brain for 5-10 minutes


Friday, November 18, 2011

meditate - patience

Let nothing upset you,
Let nothing startle you.
All things pass;
God does not change.
Patience wins all it seeks.
Whoever has God lacks nothing:
God alone is enough. - St. Teresa of Avila

As we enter into the Holiday season, I can feel myself already getting a little tense about the lengthening to-do list.  Don't get me wrong, I like to be busy, but add onto the busy-ness that my schedule will not be my own for about 3 weeks over Christmas I get a little tense.

Realizing that this is only a short time helps, but there are other tools that help reduce the stress too.  
Writing, exercise, a glass of wine, talking with good friends, smells and scenes from a happy childhood, traditions upheld (and maybe even modernized a bit) . . . I am sure you can think of 3-4 of your own stress relievers.

It's amazing what even one of these things can do.  And seriously - that breathing meditation that I have been doing, AMAZING(ly harder that one might think).  I still have to work at it, but it does get easier, and I have noticed that it makes a difference in how I breathe throughout the day - which also makes me more aware of what I am doing, and more intentional about how I am spending my time.

The holidays can be a very stressful time, but also a very amazing time.  Let it be easy.