Advent Invites us to Slow Down

There are two seasons in the life of the Church that invite us to slow down: Advent and Lent. Both coincide with busy holiday seasons in our ordinary life: Christmas and Easter. I do not think that is a coincidence. It feels Spirit led to me.


Jan Richardson, in her book Night Visions, introduces Advent this way:


The season of Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before. It is not possible to keep it from coming, because it will. That’s just how Advent works. What is possible is to not see it, to miss it, to turn just as it brushes past you. And you begin to grasp what it was you missed, like Moses in the cleft of the rock, watching God’s hindquarters fade in the distance.


So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder.


There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing.


For now, stay. Wait.


Something is on the horizon.


Every Advent I go back to this quote. I read it almost every day. It becomes the prayer through which I experience the Advent season. It is a constant reminder to slow down, as Spirit had invited us.


As Jan suggested, Advent is about reflecting upon what is coming into our lives, what we are praying to arrive in the coming year. Reflection requires us to slow down. Reflection requires times of quiet contemplation. 


So this Advent season, revisit some of the contemplative practices I have written about, practices that indeed invite us to slow down, contemplate and listen to the Sacred’s invitation and Call for the coming year.


Some of these practices include:

* Centering Prayer

* Prayer of Examen: During Advent you might decide to use questions such as

        When was I rushing, worrying, pushing and not paying attention to the present moment?
        When was my pace slower, more contemplative?
        How can I shift those times of rushing, pushing, worrying into a slower pace that opens up space for the Sacred to be Present?

* Breath Prayer

        When you find yourself in those moments of rushing, worrying, pushing try the breath prayer to shift into a more Present slower pace.

* The Labyrinth
        Walking the Labyrinth is a wonderful way to slow down, breathe deeply and listen to the Sacred. It is a journey inward as you walk to the Center of the labyrinth and back outward as you leave.

* Journaling

* Sipping your morning tea in a quiet calming space filled with beauty

* Creativity

        Engage in your favorite calming creative practice. For me it is weaving. Allow that practice to become your prayer, your meditation.

* Find your favorite quote that invites you to slow your pace. Read it each morning before you go about your day. Carry it with you to remind you throughout your day. Pray it before you head to sleep for the night.


These are a few spiritual practices to consider. 


Pick one.


Commit to a spiritual practice that will companion you into a slower more contemplative pace this Advent season. Notice the difference. Notice how the Presence of the Sacred becomes more tangible when we intentionally open our hearts to Advent’s Invitation.