I think it is almost mandatory that the clerical leader of a parish, during this time of insane buying, giving, partying, sends some kind of message about ‘smelling the roses,’ or ‘be mindful’ or ‘be different this season.’ After all, we are all running around trying to keep up with the seasonal activities which start earlier, require more of us and last longer, year after year.
So here you go: slow down.
Thanks for coming. The End.
What I’d rather say to all who are reading this, instead of making believe you can slow down during this holiday season–which we all know you can’t do–how about being more present to all the insanity. I mean, if we can’t get rid of stuff, can we at least be very present to what is going on around us so that it has more meaning and we enjoy it more?
What exactly am I talking about? Well, we’ve been talking about spiritual practices this Advent. What if we made all our activity a spiritual practice?
–instead of putting the Christmas tree up as quickly as you can so ‘we can get that out of the way,’ how about putting that tree up slowly, with the family, as a spiritual exercise? What if we talked about each ornament and what it meant? Or if we laughed together about a past Christmas tree disaster. And what if we were intentional about doing that? That makes putting up ornaments a spiritual exercise.
–if instead of just mailing checks out at the end of the year to a) beat the tax deadline and b) send checks to the same groups we always do, we spent time around the dinner table with family and made our giving more meaningful, intentional, real? Perhaps we can do some research and really make our giving match the entire families’ interests for charity.
–Instead of writing the mass produced letter about what happened last year in our Christmas cards, what if we send that to some, and write a real, pen in hand on paper, letter to others, those we are closest with. Some of you know I still write hand-written letters and seal them with wax like in the 19th century. The practice of writing the letter and sealing it with purpose is a spiritual exercise for me; why not try to make it one for you?
–And finally, on Christmas morning, when we all embark on our rituals, (coffee first! kids have to wait!) why not start with breakfast, around the table, and then open gifts. It will make the morning more personal.
So, you see what I mean? It’s silly for me to tell you to slow down. Forget that. Maintain your ‘safe at any speed’ but do it with intention, as a spiritual practice. Make everything you do meaningful.
Surely the most meaningful event in the universe’s history was the incarnation, Jesus here, with us. But the incarnation can be more than just that one incident. Our entire season can be incarnational, especially if we see Emmanuel, God with us, as love with us. We can provide more love to ourselves and others, when we make our entire life a spiritual practice.
peace and all good,