Advent Reflections

One year is not a long time. Except that it is. Yesterday I posted something that I wrote a year ago. A reminder to quiet myself in this Advent season if nothing more. As I read through the place I was a year ago some realizations drifted into my consciousness. I went out to pick up my girl shortly after that and on the drive I sat with some of the emotions that were expressed in that year-ago-ramble.

I had shared a desire for three things for myself in the Advent season.

To Wander.

To Whisper.

To Wait.

As I meditated on those three broad goals I found myself deeply at peace with where I am now. The wandering over the past year has reached a place I hadn’t thought possible. Not only did my baby buy a camper and a truck to pull it with, but we got out and explored so intensely. I took my littles to seven state parks this Summer. Seven! I found my very first wild lady slipper. My sweet man and I went to Itasca alone for two nights and saw a sky so full of stars that we lay down in the middle of a warm, dirt road and stared in awe and wonder. I hiked more miles, climbed more rocks, and sat around more camp-fires than I have in a decade. My soul was at peace.

All of this great exploring inspired some more local adventures as well. We found friends who wanted to get out and explore with us. We took trips together with new friends and walked at old parks with dear, familiar friends. It slowed me down a lot. It taught me to say no to a lot of good things in favor of saying yes to family time, to togetherness, to being able to throw a lunch box in the truck and drive away for the day simply because we had no locked-in plans. At the end of this Summer we went to a local wildlife refuge for an astronomy “lesson” and night hike. This was way outside of my comfort level because it was far-ish from home, I’d have the littles to keep track of, and it was going to be cold-ish. Even though the sky was cloudy and few stars were seen, this walk has been an often recalled, favorite memory for my littles. Had we not been in the woods so much this Summer I would not have even attempted the hike, but now I am so very glad that I did.

 

The whispering, well…I still yell. I still yell when I am frustrated and I still yell when I need a child to come upstairs and I still yell when a child starts to dart off into traffic. BUT! I know, after much reflection that I yell less today than I used to. I use a quieter voice a lot of the time. More than that though, I am less angry or frenzied than I was a year ago. There is more peace inside of me to draw from and so I don’t feel like I need to reach the insanity level of mothering quite as often as I once did. While I will never be satisfied with how often I shout, I do see improvement and that feels a lot like success to me.

I have also learned that as the little children grow they need my loud voice less frequently. They are learning what is right and I am learning to let them make choices and live with them more of the time. I can choose to let the child make a mistake instead of stopping it some of the time. They are safe and they know to come to me with their problems, I see them doing this more and more and I am grateful that some days I can just keep my mouth shut all together.

 

The wait. I have anticipated this Advent for a few months now. Things have felt sort of hurried in our house, like we are flitting past each holiday, each milestone, each memory snapping pictures but not being in the moment. I have hoped the feeling of Advent would jump in early and overtake me without any effort on my part so that this spin would slow. Despite my best effort, it didn’t. I took two weeks off of our normal activities, some of those I planned deliberately, sickness knocked off a few others and I actually forgot one or two. My husband also took a two week leave from work and we have all really enjoyed it, but the days are still flying by with little white-space in the margins.

Today is the first Monday of Advent and I can already feel the slower pace. While today was full and busy and didn’t really stop even for a minute, I started it in quiet reflection…and that honestly did make all of the difference. I’ll be honest, it doesn’t always help, some days are rough and no amount of time on the mountaintop will change their sharpness. On day three of my Advent walk though, it did. I was still and alone with my God before any other things happened or needed to happen. I was able to anticipate the joy that the day would bring, the stressors that would pull at me, the things I wanted to do that probably wouldn’t get done, and I was able to call them all good. And to be thankful for each item on my calendar. I was able to see the light that God was and is shining into my day.

 

 

To wander…To whisper…To wait… While I walked through the year between Advents’ I didn’t notice all of the work that was being done in my heart and in my soul. Today, as I looked back over a year spent in wildness I can see the heart changes that have come into my being, and I am grateful. I’ll jot that down into my journal in the morning, so many graces heaped upon me over this past year. I find it so overwhelming- the lavish love of Jesus. I have this verse in my head and underlined in my Bible, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19 I’m thinking one day I’ll tattoo it on my skin as a stark and remarkable reminder that no matter where I wander, no matter how softly I whisper, no matter how long I wait…the anchor of my soul is still firm…is still secure…I needn’t worry.

In the stillness of this morning I wrap my hands around a steamy mug of black coffee and wait, whispering to myself and to my God of the next grand adventure I have planned, hoping that it fits His plan for me as well as this past year has. I’m in prayer for each of you who is reading these words, that you will feel anchored securely in the midst of your own wild wandering. And that you would have the peace to continue without fear.

 

If you missed the reprint of the original post mentioned in this article you can find it here.

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