As thoughts of Santa, travel and turkey swirl in the air, it can be hard to remember the meaning of the holidays. Yet, in the midst of the busyness, the coming holy days invite us to pause and ponder: What are we grateful for? What gives us joy? How can we embody compassion?
My colleague, Susan Forshey, recently reminded me that in the 6th century the Celtic Christians celebrated Advent during the 40 days before Christmas, as a mirror to the period of Lent before Easter. In this age of blurring of holy-days and consumerism, Susan liked the idea of starting Advent earlier, so that Thanksgiving is included, but also so there can be a longer, more intentional preparation for Christ’s coming.
Thus she created the Ideas for Joyfully Living: Forty Days of Celtic Advent and Twelve Days of Christmas, which is a calendar of spiritual practices that help us practice joy, gratitude and loving kindness on a daily basis (available here).
As we begin the holy season of Advent, I invite you to cultivate intentional spiritual practices, whether using the calendar’s suggestions or crafting your own. On the calendar, Susan reminds us, “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”
May your days be full of joy, gratitude and compassion.
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