As my pastor pointed out, this coming Sunday is really New Years Day in the Christian Calendar - so Happy New Year! And the Christmas season is full of hope...
We hang on to hope, like light in the dark, given what is often grim and challenging. At this time of year I want to throw away the balance of realistic and difficult, and ride on a wave of hope and love and optimism. It is like a dose of happy, good medicine.
Advent is part of that, for me. It is a slowing down, even in the midst of busy, to really pay attention. And the Advent calendar calls us to do just that.
I've practiced Advent for many years, at first with my children, and now with my grandchildren. It has become more of a devotional practice which I enjoy. And in our technological age, there are many apps for that! I love reading the devotional thoughts of Henri Nouwen, and there are many others...
Last year I came across a simple sheet of paper with shapes on it to form a very modern tree. In each shape you could write a reflection... or doodle as I am apt to do... or perhaps write down a word for the day. I found this a delightful Advent exercise and instead of opening a window and finding a chocolate, I filled the "paper windows" with my doodles and words.
With that in mind, I have created two sheets, one a tree and the other an angel. You are welcome to connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a .jpg of either of them to create your own.
Each of these images can fill a regular size piece of paper and there are 25 spaces, for Dec 1-25 to write a word or thought or perhaps draw a symbol, or doodle away...
I'm sending them to grandchildren with stickers to use... a simple form of an advent calendar.
I think of reflection. We are drawn to light at this time of year, we long for it to dispel the darkness. And in the busyness of all that is commercial, in the struggle of all that is broken, in the disappointment of that is difficult, we can reflect, we look to hope.
I love the idea of Christmas Pause. Would you pause with me to look for hope?