Advent is a time to prepare for Christmas. As any celebration, Christmas needs those preparations. It is much nicer to receive or give a present which is just right for someone, rather than a last-minute bought gift, a bouquet of flowers from a service station, which was rather unimaginative, as we ran out of time really thinking about it.
Also, there is a lot of fun to be had in the preparations themselves. Decorating the Christmas tree is often more fun than just looking at it, and who doesn’t like a shopping trip to one of the Christmas markets? However, particularly with the normal busyness of life, it can all become a bit much and we continuously feel that we are running out of time and getting more and more tired. There can come a moment that not only the extra commitments become a bit much, but everything we need to do is one thing too many. I’m sure that many of us recognise this feeling, particularly in these dark days that mark this time of the year.
For everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Therefore, I’d like to encourage all of us, including myself, to try every day, or maybe every two days, to take fifteen minutes or half an hour of time for yourself. Take a little break, and do something that energises you, something that you enjoy. Your first reaction is probably like mine: I don’t have time for that. I need every single minute in the day to get my work done, and the rest of the time to sleep.
Of course that’s not entirely true, because there is an awful lot of time we waste doing things that are neither necessary, nor energising. We don’t have to use those minutes set apart in a radically new way, but we just need to be conscious of the gift of time. So let’s not spend it just looking at our phones, but let’s go and have a real conversation with a friend. Or let’s make a cup of tea and sit down to enjoy it. For a moment, let us stop worrying about the next thing that we have to do, but enjoy what we are doing now.
Pick up a book that you enjoy and read it for half an hour, rather than mindlessly looking at more websites without really taking anything in. Or watch a programme that really interests you, rather than the next episode of whatever happens to come up on Netflix. Do something you enjoy, and enjoy doing it. So let us use this season of Advent to make the most of the time. Not by doing more and more, or by counting down the days until Christmas, but by reminding ourselves occasionally to do something that we enjoy. I’m pretty sure that will not make us appreciate our time now more, but it will also make us better prepared for whatever lies ahead of us.