Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Not So "Traditional" Advent

The title for this blog post will make sense at the end. Just wait it out and see. ;)

This year I decided that I was okay with not having a "traditional" Advent for a number of reasons. See, what I consider a "traditional" Advent is having an Advent wreath, a Jesse Tree, the Nativity, and doing a number of things with the family in preparing for Our Lord's birth (Christmas); a number of things that are done as a family. We are doing the Advent wreath (which mom was able to bless for the first time thanks to the USCCB having translators on their pages) and the Nativity but those aren't even done in the "traditional" way.

The reason for this is because mom and I have a whole different dynamic going on. I know each family is different but ours is still getting used to doing things different; even four years and some months after my father's death. Mom is the head of the household but, God bless her, she's just getting into the faith so a lot of the "head of household" / "father" roles fall on me because she's still learning and not as confident in taking that "lead" role. i.e. Traditionally, dads bless the Advent wreath. This year mom did it and last year I did it. Readings? I'm doing them, though I will be reading them in Spanish since my mom's more comfortable with her native tongue. As for the Nativity, I'm doing it by myself. We have no children. Jesse Tree? I'm reading the daily passages by myself.  

I'm in this weird limbo phase in life right now. I'm young enough to be called young but too old to have my behavior excused as being a product of my youth. I'm apparently old enough to be sought after for advice but young in the sense that I don't have "enough" life experience (i.e. a husband and a family of my own). I'm out of school but I've recently wrapped up my career as a freelance writer (I have one more assignment to finish this year before I'm done). I'm five months away from returning to school for a change of career and I'm sort of just waiting for "Prince Charming" to fix his GPS or to finally ask for direction... without just sitting around and waiting for him (I have my own things going on in the meantime). A lot of things that are fun to do during my favorite time of year I just can't do like everyone else does... but that's okay. 

When I saw that my Advent wasn't going to be like most people's, I thought "well, how can I make the most out of this time?" Besides attending daily Mass as often as I can and besides keeping up my prayers and the readings in the Advent calendars, what can I do? My faith has taken some hits in the past couple of weeks (mostly my trying to figure out where my priorities are) so this is the perfect time to work on that. That's for me. But what about what I can do for others? 

I've been paying attention what Pope Francis has been saying about helping the poor (including those who are poor in spirit) prior to the released of Evangelii Gaudium and reflecting on that sparked the "a-ha" moment for me. This Advent, I'm just going to "give" -- but none of it will be material.

This is the perfect time for us to reflect the love of God unto others, especially those who don't see it as easily as others. I may not have enough financial stability to help others in things they may need (i.e. food, clothes, etc.) but God has given me a great compassion and love for those who suffer that I know that there are other ways I can help. I know this will bring up comments from others (as well as being made fun of; it's happened more than once) that will make me feel terrible and even, yes, cry but it's something I'll willing to endure.

I know prayers may not seem like much to some people, but that's the only thing I can keep "giving" in which the well will never dry up. I do give when I can but when I "can't" I can always remember the saying that "prayer moves mountains" and I can always keep praying for those who need it. If I can point them in a direction (or even connect them to a person/place) that I know can help them, I'm going to do it.

I know "giving" isn't part of the "traditional" Advent season but I'm looking at it this way: as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Our Lord, others prepare themselves to simply survive the season. There are people who are homeless who will be freezing in the streets, just as Our Lord was born in an undoubtedly cold stable. My hope is that the little things I do for others will bring them hope, just like the birth of Jesus gave all hope.

That's going to be my new challenge to all my readers: reflect the love of God onto others. Give them the hope that we all experience during Advent. Remind them that God always provides, even when things are to a point where they feel completely and utterly helpless. Those are my Advent plans; focus on what Advent means for us Catholics (and Christians) while helping others to do the same in ways that aren't as obvious.

Anyway, that's all for now. :) I hope you have all had a good week thus far. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D


che said...

well said Emmy. I spent 3 years homeless (in my mid 50's) and those prayers and tiny acts of kindness such as a smile, a nod, a gently spoken greeting can make all the difference in how a day goes. United with the sufferings of Our Lord, your prayers and sufferings take on infinite value, providing the grace those of us in need depend on. Keep up the good work of mercy. There are so many of us in need of it.

Julie Baldwin said...

Yes!! I did not even know we were supposed to bless the Advent wreath, and my family never did a Jesse tree... still so much to learn! This is a beautiful post, Emmy!

Christopher Wallace said...

Dear, dear Emmy: You have such a beautiful heart. This post is truly a reflection of God in your life. You have always been, since I've begun speaking with you, a most caring and giving individual and you know how to touch the heart of others. I am moved deeply by this post. Perhaps that sounds strange, but remember, Kindred Spirits often go through the same sort of challenges at the same sort of time -- this post is exactly what I (and many others) needed to see today. It is such a beautiful witness to the truth that the simple things of giving from the heart, ie: prayer, compassion, love, are the most profound.
I continue to pray for you also. May God Bless you, your mum and your whole family this Advent. With much love and in kindred spirit,