Advent 2017: silence and joy

The only thing we can really do in the yard for very short periods of time. But look at the joy on his face! And look at the shed which the neighbors’ landlord has failed to repair.

This might only be a fifteen minute post, or it might hit 1500 words. I have not written much lately much to my own disappointment, though I am as equally okay with it.

I have not participated as well as I had hoped in either the St Andrew Novena or any daily meditations. We have not been consistent in our listening to Barefoot Abbey’s Advent calendar with Handel’s Messiah, though it has been broken up into fragments for easy daily listening. We have not had my classic Advent playlists on repeat because they are located on my laptop (yes, I do have playlists that are NOT floating around in cyber space) and said laptop is much too slow to do anything properly. However, it has been a relatively calm start to the liturgical season thus far, despite finals week(s) being more stressful than usual.

Before St Nicholas day came around, I had all my gifts wrapped and under the tree, and for that I am truly grateful. I am not rushing about at this time checking lists again and again, and my house has been (mostly) deep cleaned and purged (which had been put off for much too long because of pregnancy). We have had delicious meals and homemade treats, we have gone on evening light tour walks and to fun art exhibits with mugs of something hot.

Tom’s latest favorite is “Srossy” the Snowman, so at this point he thinks every depiction of a snowman is Frosty. He also loves “jingles” and started singing Santa Baby the other night. He also assumes that we always have cookies around nowadays, which is partially true. His favorite piece of the crèche is the angel, but he hasn’t figured out how to hang it back up yet. I have honestly given up playtime in the yard because all he does is rush up the side of the house to the front because he wants the neighbor’s car or to walk in the street. I just can’t chase him like I could a few months ago.

We are just now about to enter the last week of Advent (so weird, right?! Because the fourth Sunday of Advent is ALSO Christmas Eve…which means we are all thrown for a loop), and two themes in particular keep circling in both the head and the heart: silence, and joy. Silence is a strange thing. I need to be careful with silence in my own life, I have always needed to be, even if I did not acknowledge it. If I leave myself with too much quiet time, in which I can let thoughts roam free and and unstructured, I tend to overthink many things, and that usually leads to anxiety.

Because of this tendency, when I have periods of silence in my life, I need to consciously give them some purpose or direction. Lately I have been using those periods to pray either with formal prayers, or merely have a conversation of sorts with either Christ or Mary. I have also been using tasks as prayers for particular people, such as praying for the person whose gift I am wrapping, or praying for this person while washing this dish. It helps little tasks go by quickly. There are many moments and days during which I just need music or podcasts on so I have something occupying my thoughts so the wrong and negative thoughts stay away. Sometimes I just FaceTime my family to chat about nothing, or run some errands just to focus on something else. As each year comes, I am trying to become more accepting of the fact that even silence needs to be discerned in my life, as strange as that sounds.

Many mothers yearn for silence, and I am sure I will more so as more children come and they get older and louder. But having Thomas was wonderful. Despite the loneliness motherhood can bring, I have been blessed with a noisemaker, a joy seeker, and risk taker. So while my days are not exactly the quietest, I am so excited for our next little one to join us because honestly, having one child can be relatively calm, and with two, well it just gets more interesting. I know someone will think I’m crazy for saying that, but some days we wonder, well what else CAN we do with you?!

In writing this, I am realizing how silence in my life should be balanced out with moments of joy and noise. I’ve been realizing it more and more as I have had a lot of time to observe Tom learn about and enjoy this season even in the midst of a home overhaul. I go about many of my tasks in silence, but then he wakes up, or enters the room and there is noise, joy, laughter, and whining; basically one extreme or the other. Silence is similar, it seems so very focused and intentional, or unplanned and hectic.

As Gaudete Sunday greets us in a couple of days, we are reminded that there is even a silence that falls before The Coming, and the joy of this next week renews both our interests and our spirits. It gives silence a new meaning, as if the silent moments to occur will contain an element of happy secrecy in order to say, “some One is coming, prepare!” Be silent! But remember why you are silent, remember the joy of a Child that comes when the silence is broken. Knowing that joy, the silence is bearable. It can be intentional and meaningful, even random. It can lead to beautiful thoughts which can lead into beautiful action. Keeping our minds and hearts focused on the joy to come helps us maintain motivation. There is a purpose, there is a reason, there is a Person who will interrupt and break the silence. Prepare yourself through silence, and then your heart will be ready for His birth.

Xoxo, Alex

Yes, I know Happiness and Joy are not exactly synonymous, but this quote keeps me going! Thanks for the graphic, Kendra!

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