I’d like to blame my friend Michelle for that.
Actually, we’re co-conspirators.
Last year I wrote a book for myself and other #cluelessEvangelicals about the liturgies of the church year, weaving them into current Christmas practices, to offer myself and readers a way to ((maybe)) slow down the frenzy of the season.
Of course, the holiday season has already begun in earnest (like back in September. Sigh). It begins this week with Thanksgiving and builds in a deafening tsunami-like wave that threatens to crush and crash on Christmas day. That is, if we’re not careful.
Reason Number One I won’t be taking photos:
I need to be more present in my life. More present t o my life. One of the lines I repeat often in Living the Season Well-Reclaiming Christmas is about making room for God’s presence….instead of focusing on all of the presents. The busyness and overwhelm of the holidays can easily replace the meaning and the reason we gather and celebrate. I want to remember that by stepping aside and stopping, even if it’s only for 5 or 10 minutes a day.
Michelle and I are on the same wavelength about the need for intentional quiet and slowing down in the weeks ahead, and about being more present to our own lives, each of us a “sacred echo” of God’s gentle whispers, I think. Stopping and stilling our souls takes practice. I want to get better at being near, not just next to, people.
Reason Number Two
I spend a lot of time on social media, particularly Instagram, checking in with people I know online and in real life. Scrolling through photos and commenting here and there keeps me in touch with my people. As a connector and communicator I guess this feeds me in some small way. Also, as an author and writer many of my best friendships have started online and I enjoy nurturing that.
But the flip side is everything becomes a photo op for me. I’m part of an event at home or elsewhere, I’m taking a walk, out at the grocery store, wherever, and I think, “Oh, that sunset, those trees, her smile (fill in the blank) would make a great photo. I should Instagram that!” (Alas, another noun which has become a verb.)
Rather than taking 5 or 10 minutes to pause and be still, to be present to what I’m seeing and appreciate the person or the sight for what it is, my mind is distracted. I’m thinking, “Where is my phone? I need a photo of this!”
Can I just sit and watch the birds land at my bird feeder, delight in their antics and reflect on their God-breathed care and creation? Can I view the morning sun as it blazes over the fir trees outside my window and simply say, “thank you, Lord” without caring whether I record it or not?
Can I engage in a conversation with my family and friends instead of taking pictures of them to show the world that I was having a conversation? (While not being actually there, so to speak?)
Does that make sense?
Sometimes I’m so busy and distracted by documenting everything I’m not actually in it. I’ve removed myself from the picture altogether.
Reason Number Three
I want to be more intentional about actually “being present in the moment itself,” as Michelle reminded me. Whether or not I have “proof” via pictures–see! I was here. I saw this. I was with so and so–all of my life matters–to God and to others. Whether no one else ever sees it. God wants me to be present to hear Him in the moment and throughout the moments of my day.
And boy, do I need that reminder like right now.
Maybe you do, too.
Michelle has recorded 4 free short audio reflections–no more than 10 minutes each–called Practicing Presence-Preparing Your Heart Mind & Soul for the Holidays. They might be just the prescription for peace that you need this week and in the weeks ahead. You can sign up HERE.
Meanwhile, I’m going to ((gulp)) pay more attention to my people and my place and God’s presence. Fine tuning my focus is the goal for Thursday’s feast and beyond.