I love Christmas. The day after Thanksgiving I cannot wait to put up my decorations− decking my halls and walls and tables. My husband laughs at how many Christmas decorations I brought into our home the first year we were married− and the fact that I can add to them every year! I light up the rooms and I count down the days. Even as an adult I get one of those advent calendars where you open a door every day and get a piece of chocolate. I think I love it so much because it is one of the few areas of my life where I get to live in the anticipation. Room is made in my life for waiting. Because that is really what the Christmas is about− waiting for the day Jesus came to come again. In the period of Advent we are awaiting the arrival of Christ and the dawn of new hope.
The one trouble is that it’s hard to feel like you’re waiting when you’re distracted and busy. And all of us are busy- busier especially at this time of year. It makes sense, really. The time of year when we should feel the longing and the waiting most clearly, we have to fight hardest for moments of quiet and calm.
What would you do with a quiet moment if you had it, anyway? If you’re like me, you may be tempted to fill it with errands and to-do list items. But what if we filled it with stillness, and waiting, and prayer?
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer, specifically how to spend more time doing it. I’ve never been that good at closing my eyes, bowing my head, and just talking. I get distracted too easily, especially at these busy times of year. I have always prayed a bit differently. I pray by writing out my prayers in the form of letters, poetry, and even drawings. It helps me stay focused on what I want to talk to God about, using my quiet moments wisely.
So this December I am going to pause in the bustle once a day to wait. I am going to dwell on the names of God and his attributes. I am going to remember who this God is, so that I can be truly excited to celebrate the day he came, looking forward to when he comes again. I am going to do this by writing out a name of God or one of his attributes each day, then either writing a note to God about it, writing a poem about it, or drawing a symbol that encapsulates it’s meaning. This is one I’ve already prayed through:
Because it can be hard to spend time in prayer without a place to get started, my friend Stephanie and I just published a guided Prayer Journal 40 Days of Art and Literature. If you find it hard to carve out time to wait and anticipate, or you think you’ll need more specific exercises to help you focus, it might help you begin. (They are available on Amazon if you’d like one.)
Whatever you use to prompt you to pray, I hope you find a few moments every day to pray and reflect on the God who is the reason we count down the days.