Monday, December 4, 2017
Advent Plans: Waiting, Reflecting, and Slowing Down to Breathe
With only a quiz, a group project, and my final exams left, this is the first time this semester I've felt like I have a little wiggle room to focus on something else beyond school work... and that reflection is really sad.
I hate that my schoolwork has taken precedence over most things, including my prayer life. Don't get me wrong, I'm doing a whole lot better than in recent years. I still make the time to pray every morning and every night. I've added the 54-day Rosary novena to my nighttime prayer time in the past couple of weeks and, as of the feast of St. Andrew, I'm now also doing the St. Andrew Christmas novena. I've chosen to go to confession, Mass, and even spending an hour in adoration when I've had exams and papers due that same night because I know that that time is more important (in the long run) than what grades I may get in my classes. Still, it's not enough.
While praying, I can't focus on what I'm reading (from the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary) or what I'm praying (the Rosary) because my mind wanders back to whatever is troubling me that day. Things I have due for any of my classes, health issues... all insignificant things that rob me of that peace of mind that would come in handy while praying. That's why I'm grateful that Advent is (admittedly, conveniently) happening at a time when my life is slowing down.
I currently have the small luxury of not worrying so much about school or health issues because I'm trusting that God will guide me in those things, but I know it won't always be this way. Once this semester is over, I have the hardest course of the program to deal with next semester. And that's still contingent upon my passing a course with a B- or better in order to continue and (hopefully) graduate in early May of next year. Next week I have a doctor's appointment with a new doctor and an unknown future regarding my medical issues since I'm basically starting over.
After these things, I will be staring the great unknown in the face -- something that has caused many panic attacks in the past. I fear the unknown because I can't plan for it nor can I control it... and, again, that causes anxiety. How I will pay back my student loans, going forward with my vocation as a future wife and mother, dealing with all of life's ups and down... nothing can prepare me for anything that will rob me of that peace of mind, except the trust I have in the Lord and the hope that everything will work out for the best. That's what I want to cultivate this Advent season: waiting for the things that God has in store for me, reflecting on what truly matters, and slowing down to breathe when things get too overwhelming.
This Advent I really want to learn how to slow down and breath. It may sound silly but think about it. How many of you feel like you don't have the time to devote an hour -- or even half an hour -- to silence and prayer; to just be still in the presence of God (outside of Mass)? I was reading a lovely reflection by the lovely Maria von Trapp (yes, of Sound of Music fame) on one of my favorite blogs regarding Advent and how we fail to prepare ourselves for it because we've lost our sense of slowing down and looking at what's important. Slowly down and reflecting on what's important will help put me back on the right track... and it'll back the waiting period easier to bear.
I was having a conversation with my mother earlier today, about how our focus is mostly on things that will no matter at the end of our lives. We can't take the material things with us yet we crave to acquire as much of it as possible. Perhaps it's not the material but emotional or intellectual pursuits leave us wanting more; not getting fulfillment from them though we may try hard to obtain it. I don't want to continue to let those things get in the way of becoming a better version of myself; one that is in pursuit of Heaven and of an eternity spent with God.
Waiting... reflecting... and slowing down to breathe. Sounds easy enough but when you have an overanalytical mind like mine, it's now always easy.
I know this means I will have to spend more time in silence, which I've never been good at doing. I know that it means I will have to learn now to stress over grades or the future as much as I have (though this is something that God has been teaching me how to do in recent weeks so it's not exactly a new goal this season). I will also have to check in with myself and look at what is causing anxiety and/or what has taken over my mind that particular moment/day and reflect on whether or not it will ultimately matter in the long run, especially at the end of my life. Since this is the beginning of the new liturgical year, I thought this was the perfect time to start these goals and work on them throughout the rest of the liturgical year.
Beyond Advent wreaths (which we're not doing this year; first time in forever), Advent calendars, books on Advent reflections, etc.: what are you, dear reader, planning on doing for Advent? I would love to know. If you're too busy to do anything beyond the things I've just listed, there's absolutely NO shame in that. We all have our own lives and we approach things differently which is why I'm curious to know what you're doing for this season of joyful anticipation.
That's it for now. I want to take my own advice and get some things done so I can sit in silence for a little while. I feel like having a little conversation with God, even if it's one-sided (for now). :D
I hope you are all having a lovely start to the week and to the Advent season.
As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D