Finding New Meaning in the Season
Dec 04, 2013 01:55AM
As we approach the end of the year, some of us may be excited about the holidays, while others may feel bored, impatient or a little cynical regarding the usual platitudes and complaints we hear. One minister observed that it is futile to talk about peace and goodwill unless there is justice to go along with it. Whether you celebrate a religious holiday, look forward to the rituals and time with family and friends or endure or shun them all, you are invited to embark on a personal journey this season.
When the leaves die and the ground becomes fallow, we can go inward and reflect, which admittedly may be challenging for those of us more involved in shopping, holiday parties and other festivities, but still doable. Start by considering what these activities really mean to you.
In the Christian tradition, the weeks leading up to Christmas are known as Advent, from the Latin word, advenio, meaning “to come”. It is a time of anticipation, preparation and longing. Christians associate this period with the birth of Christ and the Second Coming, but even non-Christians can benefit from the notion of a personal advent, a concept that some find useful and comforting. In the midst of our busyness, we may be called to slow down, look within and contemplate the future in preparation for parts of ourselves, ideas or projects we hope to birth, as well as anticipating our own season of renewal. Where have we been? Where are we now? Where do we want to be? Who or what will get us there? And when will the new and improved version of ourselves show up? We may have triumphs to celebrate, but just as likely there will be tears to shed and losses to mourn. This is an opportunity to take stock, decide what works and what is missing or needs to be updated.
As the earth becomes more naked, save a periodic coat of snow, we might want to simplify and make ourselves more vulnerable, at least to our emotions and unique spiritual longings. Journal writing, walking, meditating and/or praying, as well as soulful conversations with trusted companions can deepen the experience. These activities are in stark contrast to how many individuals spend the month of December, but we can choose to make adjustments in order to have a more meaningful, less harried season. One doesn’t have to abandon spiritual traditions or sacrifice spending time with loved ones, but we might also build in quiet time. New rituals can be created and old ones altered or discarded altogether if they don’t fit anymore. Time with friends and family may be less centered on gifts or holiday displays and more focused on expressing gratitude, sharing memories and enjoying each others company. Some people may even choose to begin their personal advent after the “official” holidays are over. Regardless of the month, creating an inner sanctum built on introspection and positive expectation can be a source of incredible joy and the greatest gift one can give oneself.
Dr. Theresa Ford is a licensed psychotherapist and the director of Creative Counseling and Coaching Services, LLC. For more information, call 240-354-3854.