Walking into church this morning, I didn’t expect to see purple. While I know that Advent comes around every year in what seems like minutes after Thanksgiving dishes are cleaned up, I still was surprised today. Today’s Mass was a prime example of how I get caught up checking off the items on my to-do list, but overlook the bigger picture! And to think that the whole message is “Stay awake, be ready, for you know not the hour when the Lord is coming.” Well, I wasn’t awake. But, I can assure you that after the great Mass experience I had this morning, I am awake and more prepared than ever to try and make this Advent my best yet. As I have referenced before, I’m a tad OCD when it comes to accomplishing things: I’m an organizer, a planner, a list-maker, a rule follower. So, the same will be true for me in this Advent mission. I have come up with a few items that I’d like to pay more attention to incorporating in my life this Advent, as well as a reflection on how my mindset can be focused during this season of preparation, anticipation, and excitement.
1) I’d like to get back into the routine of attending weekday Masses. For someone who works in churches every day, I haven’t been to a weekday Mass in quite some time. And I haven’t been going with any regularity since college. In an effort to be practical about the time binds of work and competition prep, I will strive to make it to a weekday Mass at least once per week during this Advent season.
2) As a professional in the nonprofit sector, one might think that I have many volunteering obligations. However, I spend so much time in the act of fundraising and working with my client, that I don’t sacrifice my personal time to service to others. This is something I’d like to change for this Advent season. I don’t have expectations on what it will look like specifically, but in a city with such great need, I want to make sure to incorporate at least two acts of volunteer service over this Advent season.
3) When we think of “getting ready for Christmas,” the first thing that often comes to mind is the shopping for gifts and the stress that perhaps accompanies the task. I am grateful that my immediate family has decided to forego gifts this year in order to take a family trip over the Christmas holiday instead. This makes me able to more fully focus on the reason for the season, seeing that I won’t be caught up in checking people off my Santa shopping list. Through this deferral of gifts, I think I will have greater opportunity to spend time and money on things that bring value to the season. At this moment, the first thing that comes to mind is my newfound love for cooking. I hope to work on this skill while giving back to others. I think that baking some goodies and trying some new recipes will be a great way to give back to the folks who make my life brighter each day (but who may not expect a gift from me!)
Lastly, the mindset of the season. This, for me, is paramount. As I prepare to wrap up a long term assignment in Chicago and begin to transition to a new client and assignment (perhaps moving states away), I think that the only realistic way I accomplish that with low stress is to give it up to God. I think that the metaphor of walking on the beach with the Lord is applicable here. Right now, I’m walking beside him, but now that at any moment, I’m going to be picked up and carried through to the next safe space to land. What can I do to make this preparation one that is fruitful and effective? And, besides the move and upcoming transition, a few overall questions to consider: Am I being who Christ wants me to be? Am I acting in a way that is loving, patient, and kind? Am I acting in service of self, or others? Am I the girlfriend that my partner deserves? Am I in control of my emotions and aware of my words? Am I being a supportive member of my family? Am I present while in conversations? These are some thematic questions I hope to keep in mind during this time of preparation for Christmas.