For some of us, the Christian tradition of Advent is part of the preparation leading up to Christmas. Each week a candle is lit, and we are reminded of important messages of the season: hope, peace, joy and love. Regardless of your faith or your traditions, I think these are messages worth considering at this busy time of year. How can each of us personify hope, peace, joy and love? Where can we see examples of these themes in our daily lives and amidst our personal interactions? What do we need to do in order to find hope, live peace, feel joy and give love even when we feel overwhelmed or distracted? Well, just like Sister Mary Clarence says in the movie Sister Act 2, we’d better wake up and pay attention!
(Enjoy that delicious movie moment here if you like) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcgscTnXRzA
We can find hope all around us. In the budding amaryllis bulb beside the grocery store check-out line; when the winter sun peeks out from behind the snow clouds; when we choose to receive guests with an open heart and relax into the possibility of connection; or through example with the Salvation Army volunteers who tirelessly collect and never make us feel bad when we only have debit. Hope wants to be found.
We can live peace when we choose our actions or reactions. People are grumpy and busy but you don’t have to take it personally. Maybe peace means listening to our bodies so we rest when we need to rather than fighting, pushing ourselves to do more. Or we might choose to let stuff go so we can clear the mind of harsh judgements of self and others. Do you want to be right, or do you want to live peace?
I feel joy most profoundly with all the beautiful music at this time of year. Choirs full of singers sharing their joyful songs, pageants full of children showing joy through costumes and scripts, teachers and students expressing joy through band and choir music that has taken months to prepare; these musical offerings are all gifts of joy.
Giving love can be trickier… especially the pure, unconditional kind that is not attached to expectations or material things. For me love is a little fire inside that always burns, fueled by my faith and my passions in life. Giving love from that place requires me to be connected, optimistic and not attached to the outcome. I think I need to have experienced hope, peace and joy before I can give love. Love completes the loop.
I began reflecting on these advent themes recently because I’m going to be singing O Holy Night in church on Christmas Eve. I know this is not about me (aka Diva Moi) in performance. Of course there are musical elements to prepare: settling on the best key; breath markings; vocal flexibility for ornamentations; dynamic contrasts; interpretation of text; etc. But more than performance, I think singing might be about me humbly sharing my Advent journey with my community. And how do I prepare for that? I guess I’d better wake up and pay attention to the hope that wants to be found, the peace that yearns to be lived, the joy that bubbles out to be felt and the love that patiently waits to be given.