Advent is a time of waiting. This is not a passive activity, it is an active one. One we are called to as Christians to do with hope. To
actively wait with hope we must prepare our hearts and minds. This advent season I am preparing my heart by growing my patience with my self, my kids, my spouse, and my family and friends. When I am overtired, overworked, or out of balance I can find myself in the throws of irritability. Irritation never makes a situation better, in fact this quick reaction causes a long delay back to peace and patience.
This Advent part of my spiritual practice and prayer is to make a conscious choice to actively wait with patience, with love, with hope, by being slow to anger. Part of my exercise in doing this is to become aware of my thoughts, and choosing which ones to give energy too. Instead of thinking that every thought I have deserves, requires, or needs to be indulged. The second practice I am working on is being conscious of my breathing. At the end of some days I notice that I have barely breathed, so I choose to move my breath into my diaphragm, below my neck and receive the grace that comes from taking deep breaths. Lastly, I am choosing to be aware of my energy levels and to use my energy for what seems to be calling it not necessarily toward all I feel I must do no matter what cost to myself. In a time of Christmas preparation I find these practices help me sink into the waiting for Christ’s birth, joining Mary in her final weeks of pregnancy, pregnant with her son, with the promise of a better today and tomorrow, and pregnant with hope.
The Dalai Lama says: “The compassionate mind is very important. Fear, anger, jealousy are based on a self-centered attitude. By developing a sense of caring for others’ well-being your heart automatically opens and that brings transparency, straightforwardness and honesty, which leads to friendship. We are social animals, and one’s individual survival relies entirely on the rest of the community….Neither peace nor war exists independently of us. Political and military leaders have grave responsibilities with respect to peace – but they too are members of the society that we as individuals help to create. Peace in the world depends on peace in the hearts of individuals; this depends on each of us practicing ethics by disciplining our negative thoughts and emotions, and developing basic spiritual qualities.”
May we each find peace of mind, peace of heart, and peace of love as we make conscious awake decisions in how we will live today with those present before us now.