This Thanksgiving was a bit different for us. Instead of making a drive, or having family come to us, the four of us had a quiet day punctuated by a traditional meal on the family China. When I kept referring to Thanksgiving Dinner, even my children protested, “What’s the big deal – it’s just lunch!” As an extrovert who has spent a lot of the last almost two years with these three other people, I felt a sense of absence for all the people with whom I have enjoyed this traditional day. But as I watched my beloved introvert revel in the quiet, I began to see a peace among these four people who have come to deepen our trust and love for one another during this pandemic (even if that love is sometimes expressed in short tempers and bickering).
I suspect we were not alone in our “new normal” Thanksgiving. Many people from our church community had similar arrangements – couples who stayed home, four neighbors who came together in their “aloneness,” singletons who found joy over Zoom calls. Even those who gathered in smaller groups commented on the quietness of the day – and a kind of gratitude that can only come from scarcity – scarcity of community, of gathering, of all things normal.
For me, it was the perfect way to segue into Advent, a similar season of hushed quietness. As the world whirls around us, we pull back, quietly preparing our homes, knowing the uncertainty of these times, and being grateful for every moment of comfort in this season of waiting. That’s why I enjoy the Advent practice called “AdventWord.” – a visual way to meditate on a daily word throughout Advent. It gives me a chance to scroll back through old pictures or turn my gaze to the world around me and snap something anew. It is a solo, quiet practice that stirs creativity, gratitude, and hope.
What are you doing this Advent to set time apart? How are you struggling to set time apart? Maybe you can only find literal moments of peace. Maybe you can squeeze out a half hour a day. Maybe you can daily confess your desire for such a practice to the God who sees you in all your commitments. Whatever you do this Advent, know that you have the support and love of a community who sees you too, and holds on to a desire for peace and comfort for you in this season.