Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Advent Journal

Celtic Advent starts today - allowing a full 40 days of preparation, just as Lent gives us 40 days to fast, pray and await the celebration of Easter.  Here's what Celtic Daily Prayer says about Advent:

Advent is traditionally a time of preparation for Christmas.  It is said that the door to the stable where the Christ-child has been born is very low - and only those who kneel find access.  Being ready for Christmas should mean that our thoughts are focused not just on letters, cards and presents, but on repentance, humbling and interior housecleaning... This involves removing any boulders that stand in the way, and filling in any potholes.  The boulders are the things we have done that we should not have done; the potholes are the things we have failed to do which we obviously should have done.  The more, as individuals, family or congregation, we are focused in this way, the less we will be overwhelmed by the commercialization of Christmas.

I spent some time yesterday purchasing and preparing Advent Journals for myself and my daughters.  Maybe you think journals are for writing your thoughts or feelings.  Maybe you read "journal" and think "a book that will lay beside my bed and convict me when I don't write in it every day."  While I've found in recent years that I love to write, I've never been a big journal-keeper.  I think one reason for this is that I felt like a failure if I didn't journal every day.  I'd like to encourage you to throw that concept of journaling into your mental trash can.

A journal can be so much more.  Let it be a place to:
  • Record the ways you are preparing your heart, your home, your community for Advent
  • Keep your favorite Christmas cards of the year
  • Remind yourself of the little gifts that come your way every day of Advent
  • Look for the joy, peace and hope that Advent is about
  • Transcribe sweet or funny sayings from your children
  • Draw
  • Sketch
  • Paint
  • Write
  • Collage
  • Pray
I'll be encouraging my daughters to keep a record of our Advent in their Advent journals.  I'll sometimes ask them to write an essay or personal response to something we've studied together.  I'll have them record the recipe for St. Lucia bread, who St. Nicholas really was and when The Nutcracker was first performed.  Their first assignment for their journals will be to write about how Thanksgiving helps to prepare our hearts for Christmas.

I wanted my journal to be all mine - not just an off the shelf purchase.  So I bought a composition notebook and covered it front and back in Christmas colors.  My daughters weren't interested in doing this, so they have comp books with graphics and words about peace and love.  I'm slowly learning to let my children take the lead in their own creating.  If they want to collage, great.  If not, that's fine, too.  That doesn't mean I shouldn't do what my heart is telling me to do.  It just means I don't have to put my own desires onto them.

Whether you're crafty or not, a fan of journaling or hate to hold a pen, think about giving an Advent journal a try.

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