Wednesday, September 30
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Slow Down, Begin Again (an Advent Reflection)

Our host today is Terri Stewart, the host of BeguineAgain.com (aka Cloaked Monk!). I give to you, "Slow Down, Begin Again," loosely tying to Zechariah 8:4-5. For more about me, see the "About" tab. This was first published at rethinkchurch.com.

Slow Down, Begin Again

IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS!!! I hear this echoing in my head from years past—from my children’s years, from my own cries, and from my crazy Aunt Nancy (I love you!) who still calls me at zero-dark-thirty on December 25 to wish me a Merry Christmas.

What I also remember is making lists of what I have bought for the in-laws to make sure everybody got the same quantity and the same monetary value. Making lists for my children so one was not valued in presents more than the other. And stressing out over finding that “perfect gift” for my oldest son who seemed to be unable to express desire for anything. ANYTHING. That is stressful.

But maybe he had the right idea all along! He was unattached to things.

Non-attachment to things of this world is a value greatly revered by the world’s great traditions. What if we slowed down, let non-attachment suffuse the Christmas* season, and began again? What would that mean? What would it look like in our lives?

Emptying our lives of the values of materialism, comparison to others, and over-abundance and instead filling it up with the values of spiritualism, self-inventory, and enough? Taking a journey of emptying rather than filling.

The dichotomy is pretty stark. Empty vs. full. Nobody really wants to run around on empty or having nothing. But there is a trick. By slowing down our lives and refocusing our lives, we can begin again with an attitude pointed towards spiritualism, self-inventory, and being satisfied with enough. Adopting these three counter-cultural traits, creates freedom for new things to happen. Simplifyingcreatesroomformore!

More what? More interior room to listen to that which calls you. More room to see those around you. More room to understand great joy. And more room to feel the world’s great grief. After listening, seeing, understanding, and feeling, there is one more thing—by simplifying, there is more room to offer great love in action to a hurting world.

By emptying, we create room. By making room, the possibility of personal transformation is created. By being transformed, the possibility of action is created. By committing acts of love, mercy, and justice, the possibility of world renovation is created.

And before long, we who were emptied have been filled with love.

And being filled with love, we can, as today's scripture suggests, be present to all people (old men & women, boys & girls) and simply be (or play, play, play!).

Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets....

By Adam Jones [CC-BY-SA-3.0] via Wikimedia Commons
Boys play chess on the street, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. January 2003.
By Adam Jones [CC-BY-SA-3.0] via Wikimedia Commons
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*Christmas season in the secular sense of the word as that time from the day after Thanksgiving to January 1. 

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Post 22 in the Crystallize Meaning through Creativity: An Advent Event
Scripture: Zechariah 8:4-5
Please offer a link to your Advent Reflection using the comments or feel free to leave your thoughts.

(c) 2013, Terri Stewart

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