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Finding Stillness and Silence in our Lives  - every day, but especially these days  ...

Because we link Christmas with summer holidays it so often comes with a mad rush as loose ends are tied up and all sorts of gatherings claim our time. We may sing carols like Silent Night but silence and stillness don't fit the season.   Christmas is about fitting everything in, facing the crowds at the mall, stocking the freezer, and organizing the family.  Spare a thought for the vicar who also has to organize the Christmas services.

Amidst the business of his own life Jesus would often withdraw to a place of stillness and solitude where he would pray.   He recognized that rush and busyness means we easily loose touch with our soul or God centre.   We often see prayer as speaking with God and even trying to get God to fulfil our needs.   In quietness Jesus teaches us that at the core of prayer is transformation.   The apostle Paul says we need to be transformed by God so we do not just fit into the world but can live to a different drum beat that is true, life giving, and encourages the authentic person God has called into being to flourish.     (Rom 12:2)

 Our God is an inviting God who often speaks in whispers or quietly nudging our lives.  God so often speaks from a deep place within inviting us into authenticity. It is therefore easy to separate our lives from God when noise and activity determine the shape of our lives.   

Christmas with its invitation to allow Christ to be born again into our lives is an invitation to go beyond the busyness and activity of the season to go deeper and seek the transformational presence of Christ.

This Advent and Christmas we invite you to slow down and get contemplative in the more unusual spaces for stillness and silence…

While shopping or doing errands… Use these moments, for example when you wait at the checkout … Let your waiting in line be an invitation to reflect on what we are waiting for this Christmas? How is Christ present (or not evidently present) at this moment of waiting? What are our human desires and longings that are reflected in our actions this time of year? Turn this waiting into a micro-moment of contemplation and prayer.

Turn your Christmas preparation into a Monastic activity ... Hanging lights, preparing an Advent Wreath, decorating a tree and baking cookies can be highly contemplative acts as they are all acts of preparation,  a truly Adventian activity. As you do them, be present in this moment of baking, hanging flights, arranging the greenery, etc.  Contemplate your hopes for this season. Turn those hopes into prayers as you tell God about your longings for Christmastime. And let the time of preparation be also an opportunity for listening. What is God telling you during this time of preparation?

Saint Benedict believed we should live in a way that combines the contemplative life intertwined with a life of action, expressing the importance of both. Whether you are scrubbing the floor, wrapping gifts or baking Christmas cookies, we can do so with an awareness that glorifies God.

Practice fasting...

Fasting is not only for Lent, try it this time around Christmas. One of our  biggest complaints leading into Christmas is often centered on the season’s consumerism.  So this Christmas … be a rebel against the commercialism of the season by fasting from something. It could be sweets, but it could also be social media, flicking through reels, or another digital pastime...  And so open up a space for God, the Divine and to contemplate the great mystery that is Christmas, God becoming one of us.  .. Go a step further and re-think your presents.. try to spend as little as possible, make them yourself, up-cycle, etc Do  Visio Divina with the images of Advent and Christmas...  Our Advent and Christmas season is rich in imagery, from lights, garlands, trees,  to (real and fake) greenery and much more. Let those images, colours, (even smells and sounds) speak to you.  Everything can be a visual reminder of God’s presence in our life if we want this to be. What do the images represent? What hopes are they speaking of? What might they tell you at this moment of time? What does God want to inspire you? 

Advent Calendars … It is never too late to start your Advent Calendar. They don't necessarily have to be chocolate. Make your own or have a look at online Advent Calendars available. They give you daily inspiration for that precious time preparing and waiting for  Christmas…

If you feel you want to dedicate special time for contemplation, we invite you to come to Sister Eveleen Retreat House in the new year. You could sign up for one of our guided retreats … from 1 day, 2 days, weekend or 7 day retreats, silent, quiet or focused on a special spirituality. Or, book in for your own self-guided overnight stay in our beautiful space in the most stunning location in Sumner.

Wishing all a blessed Advent and Christmas and the courage to pause and be transformed. 

(written by Dugald Wilson & Antje Duda)

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