Advent is this Sunday, and I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do to make it a prayerful, meaningful 25 days. Something came to me tonight, that was rather unexpected. What if, this Advent, I focus on self-care, rather than self-denial? Sacrifices and penances absolutely have their place. But perhaps the Lord is asking me, for 25 days, to be especially good to myself. To be mindful of my need to unwind, to rejuvenate, to be refreshed? To honor that need, to honor myself, a daughter of the King, created in the image and likeness of Christ. To intentionally try to temper the temptation to do, do, do, with the permission to be.
As it is, December is a month that tends to stress me out. Introverted me gets overwhelmed about the quantity of small-talk holiday gatherings I must attend, cookies and treats I must bake, gifts I must buy, etc. By December 25th, I just end up tired, and cranky and certainly not feeling very edified and spiritually prepared to celebrate the birth of Christ.
This past year as been an extremely busy one for me. It has drained me and stretched me and left me feeling pretty depleted here in late November. I am weary and worn.
But Jesus says come. He says to "be still and know that I am God."
How do I attain this stillness, this tranquil hush where I can hear Him whisper, "My daughter, you are Mine. You are beautiful. You are worth it. You are loved."
Perhaps for me, perhaps for you, this is to be intentional about self-care; perhaps it means creating and oasis of rejuvenation in the midst of a frantic, totally stressed out world. Perhaps it is in creating that spiritual space - getting rid of the clutter - so there is a place for communion with the Little One when He comes at Christmas.
I remember once in a homily, a priest talking about our duty to love others; and first and foremost, the duty to love and care for ourselves. For if we don't first care for, honor, and love ourselves, we will not be able to be present and whole to those around us. Another time, a priest at a retreat while I was in grad school talked about how "we need Divine Mercy in order to love ourselves." We can be so, so hard on ourselves. We must ask Jesus for His Divine Mercy in order to help us see ourselves as He sees us. If we could do that; we would be receiving the most beautiful and perfect gift at Christmas.
So what will help me to be still? To settle? To be well? I think I will create a list, but for starters, things like making nourishing meals, listening to calming music, writing letters to old friends, gentle exercising, sweetly smelling candles and journaling may be some ways.
In giving myself a little extra care, may I be reminded of the sweetest care that He has for me. Maybe you will too!