Here it is, Sunday night. It seems that the weeks are speeding past so quickly that I can barely keep up with the calendar. Things are great, though, and each day that rushes by is a joyful one. It is a true blessing to have so much love and happiness in my life.
Today is the first day of Advent, the Sunday when we light the first purple calendar. It was glorious to walk into church today and see the priest and deacon wearing purple. I love that our church marks time in such a visible way. The whole service was beautiful and full of love and noisy children and smiling strangers and new friends. I could not have been happier. Then, I met with my youth group teens and they made adorable little angel ornaments that we are going to send to homebound parishioners. There was a lot of laughter and joking and it was a wonderful time. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to work with these amazing teens. Later, we were invited out to dinner with our dearest friends and it was so good to spend time with them. I realized how deep the roots of our friendship are. Is there any better way to spend an evening than enjoying good food with good friends?
I came home tonight and opened up my “Little Blue Book.” This is a small booklet of daily reflections for Advent that our parish gave. Tonight, I opened my blue book and read the first reflection. It asked me to spend a few minutes planning how I was going to spend the days of Advent, looking at spiritual, practical, personal and charitable aspects of preparing for Christmas.
I wish I had read it this morning and thought about it all day. It takes me a lot of time to come up with a plan like this. Still, the booklet asked me to do it in six minutes (including spending a few moments in prayer asking for help in planning). So, I decided to dive in and make a plan. Since I am having luck with adding only one habit at a time, I wanted to not overwhelm myself by making a whole list of things I will never be able to accomplish.
Here is what I decided to plan:
Spiritual – Every morning when I arrive at work, I have been spending a few minutes updating our youth group facebook page. I read the daily Mass readings for the day and choose a sentence or two to post. I read a book of saints and post a little blurb about a saint. I am reading through the Catechism for the Year of Faith and so I post an interesting sentence from the catechism. This is a lovely way to start the day. My plan during Advent is to continue what I have been doing, and recognize this as the special prayer time that it is each day. I will not allow my email or messages to distract me from my time of prayerfully choosing the passages I will be posting for the teens and their parents to read for the day.
Practical – The list of tasks to be completed during Advent is very long. I decided that, in the next couple of days, I will ask John to sit down with me and schedule the times when we will do the things that we always do together and I will schedule my own tasks (actually write them on the calendar) at a reasonable pace. We have been simplifying our Advent in recent years anyway, but I think it will help me if I plan a time to do the things I want to get done.
Personal – I want to reach out to some of our family and friends that I don’t often see. I have been thinking for a while that I would like to send a note to some of my loved ones. (I have joined Postcrossing, an organization that allows you to exchange postcards with people all over the world. While this is nice and a lot of fun, I have been thinking how great it would be to send a postcard to people I actually know and care about.) I will make a point to send a postcard to one person each day during Advent. I will let myself “catch up” if I get behind, but I want to make sure that I send 7 postcards before the end of each week.
Charitable – I want to start a practice that I have been thinking about for a long time. I will keep some McDonalds or Dunkin Donuts gift cards in my pocket when I ride the bus each day and give them out whenever I see someone that I think would like a day-brightener. I have been hesitant to start this practice, but I feel brave enough to give these out in the spirit of Christmas.
There is my plan. I think everything is achievable and measurable. These things will make my Advent brighter and help me to live the spirit of the season. They are not huge steps but, if I focus on them, they can be life-changing. Wish me luck! If you feel so inclined, maybe you would like to make your own plan in one, two, or even all four of these areas. If you do, please comment and let me know. I would love to know what others are working on this Advent.