Today is the start of Advent. I know we don't start opening our advent calendars or burning our advent candles until 1st December, but the season of advent really has started!
So what is advent? The word comes from the Latin Advenire - to approach and it covers the four Sundays approaching Christmas. It is a time of preparation, of self examination and (traditionally) self denial. It is very similar to the period of Lent which precedes the celebrations of Easter. Many people will be familiar with the idea of "giving something up for Lent" and it is because of this principle of a season of self denial. Somehow a similar period of abstinence for Advent seems to have been lost in history, although our New Year waistlines might be all the better for it if it had not been!
For many preparation for Christmas means cooking food, buying drink, wrapping presents, writing cards, decorating trees and houses (inside and out!), making travel plans, calming excitable children (of any age), soothing frayed nerves and checking the bank balance (with trepidation).
Try adding something new this year.
Make time to sit still in quietness for ten minutes, five if you are unnerved by the experience of quiet.
As you sit still ask yourself three questions:
- What part does kindness play in your life and how can you make it more central?
- Do you hold resentment in your heart and if so, how can you let go of it?
- When was the last time you told the people that you love most that you love them and when is the earliest time that can do so again?