Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Slow Down and Savor

Slow Down & Savor

Staring at the bulletin board above my desk, a sense of disloyalty washes over me. The autumn pictures that give me such joy will soon be replaced by Christmas ones. I wonder what it would be like to extract every bit of sweetness out of each season, not allowing man-made holidays to push me along. Winter doesn't begin until December 21st by the calendar year. What if the snowman collection crowding the top of the pie safe didn't make an appearance until the changing of the seasons? Of course I do favor autumn over all the others, but why must we rush along as if we were about to see our favorite celebrity. The One who made the seasons is the greatest of all and He didn't rush, but methodically made a plan to inhabit the flesh of a baby, grow up, make fishers of men, die on a cross, raise from the dead and lift up the hearts of believers everywhere in anticipation of His return.

'Tis the season when all the details of my days are blurred together and my holidays begin to look more abstract than intentional and meaningful; full of moments meant to be noticed and celebrated, each day meant to be anticipated and celebrated. Last week I worked hard to savor and create memories with my husband, daughters and their friends. It was no small feat since we celebrated two birthdays and Thanksgiving in a short seven-day week. Packed in the middle of cooking, baking, cleaning and wrapping, a special event for our church staff gobbled up most of one day.

At times I felt overwhelmed and unsure of how I would manage, but I do know something about savoring: a beautiful magazine, a well written book, looking into the sparkling eyes of a loved one as they tell their story, the exquisite prayer journal by a dear friend, or a delicious piece of dark chocolate. These are things I slow down and savor. I am tempted to absorb these treasures all at once, but usually I am able to take my time and truly enjoy each picture, each bite, each story, each phrase, and each prayer. Why does this time of year, with all the twinkleling lights and sweet treats, seem so devoid of the leisure needed to relish in its meaning and significance? I could blame it on consumerism or on others planning too many events designed to commemorate Christmas; I suppose all those things have an influence on me. But I am the one who chooses whether or not I will be deprived of savoring the special moments between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have helped complicate Christmas with all the trappings and expectations I put on myself.

Don't misunderstand, I enjoy some of the trappings of Christmas: the happiest music, gift giving, decorating and extra baking. The point is I do not want to get so caught up in the trappings that I forget to think about why I cherish each person for whom I wrap a present. I don't want to miss out on meaningful fellowship. I don't want to disregard how the garnet-colored
pomegranates hang heavy like ornaments on the pomegranate tree. I want to watch the hummingbirds sip nectar from the Aloe Vera blossoms. I want to sip coffee with my daughters and hear about their daily doings. I want to enjoy the process of decorating the Christmas tree and not feel as if I must do this, but that I delight in doing it. I want to watch Christmas movies with my husband without worrying about all the items needing crossed off my list.

As I read back over this post, I realized I have a theme going: I am not wanting to miss the meaningful moments in life. Being intentional about paying attention is hard work sometimes. I am looking for ways to make room for more joy, less drudgery. I choose to spend less time and energy worrying about getting everything done and more time enjoying the process of preparing to celebrate the incarnation and what it means for all the people I love. I would love to hear how you strip away some of the "shoulds" of the Christmas season and find ways to delight in the moments made with the people you love.