CharlieMC (charliemc) wrote,

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Advent Readings and Prayers... And My Take on Advent.

Okay, so I found the suggested Bible readings and the daily Advent prayers I've been sharing at an online site. But to tell you the truth, I'm sort of disappointed by them. I don't like the Bible choices and I feel the prayers are sometimes too family-centric. Don't get me wrong, Marilyn and I are a family, even if it's just the two of us. But I get a strong sense that these prayers were specifically written with a more traditional family (mom, dad and kids) in mind -- and that bothers me. I just looked at the Bible reading for today -- and read over the prayer. And, again, I feel disappointed. I'm looking for something else...

For me, I feel Advent gives us a chance to PREPARE for the coming of the Lord. Yes, I realize many of my friends are not Christians, and I'm not out to offend by sharing a Christian theme each day. I think being spiritual is a very personal thing, involving very personal choices -- and I respect the choices of others (as I hope others will respect mine). Advent isn't by far the only celebration of this season, but there does seem to be similar themes in other religions and spiritual practices for this time of year.

For me, I want to practice forms of penance (or mortification) -- I think it's a good time to do this. During a season where we frequently over-indulge in so many ways, it's nice to stop now and then and deny myself something, as part of my spiritual growth and preparation. Focusing on others (giving my time, money or gifts) is a form of almsgiving that has historically been attached to Advent and seems like a solid and good practice to me. (Obviously Christmas presents came from this, and if we shop with a loving intention, it can change the way we look at gift exchanges. Again, I recognize that our economy relies on shopping during this time of year, and I'm not one who rants against it. It's our behavior during shopping and our attitude toward others that matters, I think...)

Finally, I do want to spend time trying to purify my heart in preparation for the celebration of Christmas. I want to experience the JOY of Advent and Christmas, even as I try to perform small penances every day. The balance here is between penance and joyful expectation, and I like that concept very much. I want my focus to work back and forth between the two.

Happily at one point today I was listening to TV (in the background while cooking), and began to sing along to "Silent Night." I found myself filled with a sense of joy as I sang and listened, and happy tears were streaming down my cheeks.

I'd say the JOY is easier than the PENANCE, but I'm not sure that's true. For some people it's WORK to see joy and live it, even for short periods of time. But penance isn't easy, either, because true penance is done without complaint -- and it's hard not to whine about our woes! (smile)

I'm going to continue to focus on Advent with serious intent this year. I think it's good for me -- and my actions could extend that goodness to others. It's probably just as well that I don't need to do this all year round, because sincere focus isn't easy -- and I think we're meant to deal with different times of the year in different ways...

This may seem like I'm rambling (I am, actually!), but I wanted to share. I like exercises that help me to be a better me, but I'm not going to pretend it isn't really HARD. You wouldn't have wanted to hear my cursing with Kris -- who was doing the same -- yesterday, for example! Wow, a really rough day and make me lose it more than I might wish! But I didn't let the negative situation get me down, so I think I kept some joy in spite of everything. As I said before, it's a balancing act, and maybe the important thing is to TRY -- even if I don't always succeed.

I wish you all many Advent Blessings, because I cherish YOU!

Tags: 2010, advent, december-2010, marilyn, reflections

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