There are very few places where it is more exciting to spend the weeks leading up to Christmas than in a school. As one can imagine, the atmosphere is electric with visions of sugarplums, intermingled with math facts, dancing in little heads! Focus begins to wane in the classrooms as the number of distractions multiply. In contrast, we find ourselves in the church liturgical season of Advent, a time that calls us to wait, to watch, to stay alert as we prepare for God’s joyful surprise. It is a time to behold the awe and wonder of the season, taking note of God’s presence in the present moments, in things previously unnoticed.
I frequently find myself in conflict with this time of the year. With constant commercials pitching items we did not know we needed, as well as frequent reminders of the declining number of days for Christmas shopping, it is not surprising that it is a time of high stress and exhaustion. Who has time to slow down and “smell the roses” when there is a mile-long list to accomplish? Which is why I love Advent and the contrasting reminder to slow down, be in the moment, and enjoy the magical wonders that surround us.
Small children are our perfect model. They take in every detail. They can stare at the Christmas tree for hours, checking out each ornament and all the dazzling lights. Their faith in Christmas displays hope, joy, and love right before our eyes as they behold the majesty in God’s creation. They take pleasure in the simple things and are present for every moment. And right there is our reminder. Watch, stay alert, be ready because the joy of the season is in the present moment. I am reminded that the to-do list is not important; rather, beholding the awe and wonder is.
Perhaps this Advent season, we can look with five-year-old eyes, appreciating each magical moment. Watch, stay awake, and wait patiently as the season of preparation unfolds. Such a practice may just change Christmas for us as we look with fresh eyes at the beauty of our creation, intentionally slowing down for Advent. The signs are all around us if we simply take the time to notice.
Head of School