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Garden moments

First slide

It’s been quite a fall: a totaled car, a flooded house, a serious infection, the death of my father, an eye injury that resulted in emergency surgery, and some things I’m still holding close and private. Quite a fall. On the second Sunday of Advent, we will travel home from my father’s funeral. I’m still not sure I understand the delay but delayed it was, and so we will live in a weird spiritual and temporal suspension until we return home again.

And then, Advent will be all about quiet and rest. It will be about truly caring for myself.

This Advent, keep quiet. Reckon with your heart. Walk the holy way. Let Jesus be your companion when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise (Deut. 6:7).

So often when we hear the word “self-care” we think of spa days or massages or time away from real life. It has become increasingly clear to me that self-care is actually doing the things necessary to support and sustain the real life I want to have. I want to live a life of quiet rest. Here, at the beginning of the liturgical year, is a perfect place to commit to the habits that will create and nurture the life I hope to live.

The most authentic Christian life begins from a place of rest in God. It begins with surrender over striving. It moves peacefully into the world as a lived testimony to the phrase “God’s got this.” And “this” is everything. He’s got everything. To believe that authentically, I know I must remind myself of that frequently. And I must notice all the times he’s been faithful and heartily acknowledge them with sincere gratitude.

Quiet, then, is a necessity. Love himself calls us into being, and he wants us to always incline our ears toward his voice. He wants to accompany us in every moment of our day; we were created to hear him in our inmost being. For our part, we have to quiet the hurry and the worry and busyness and the long list of “needs” in order to hear the one thing that is necessary: the voice of the Lord telling us to be still and know him. This Advent, keep quiet. Reckon with your heart. Walk the holy way. Let Jesus be your companion when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise (Deut. 6:7).

Let the rhythm of prayer punctuate your daily round. Rhythms and habits determine how we spend the minutes of our days. And how we spend our minutes is how we spend our lives. Use the smallest cues to help you to pray. Each time you touch a light switch, ask to see for what you are truly grateful and to articulate that prayer of thanks. Each time you fill a water glass, drink deep the knowledge that you are endlessly loved and speak into the heart of the Jesus who loves you. Wear a rosary bracelet around your wrist and offer a few prayers at a time, enveloping yourself in the tender care of your mother. Make the sign of the cross upon beginning any task, offering it to the provision and protection of Our Lord.

Savor silence. Take plenty of time to sit and be quiet, plenty of time to walk in the cold, crisp air in silence that welcomes words from God. Every moment does not need to be filled with conversation and technology and task-driven productivity. God begs us to be still and know. It is the stillness of spirit he is after. We were not created to push relentlessly through the demands of this world. We were created to walk with him in the garden. Look for the garden moments in your day. Rest with him there.

Foss, whose website is takeupandread.org, writes from Connecticut.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021

@elizabethfoss