A time of praying, waiting and avoiding too much, too soon

I recently took up quilting.

This might seem like a small thing, but for me it’s been a big to-do — a 20-year dream that’s finally taking shape. The dream, however, has taken shape much better than my first few quilts.

Halfway done with my first project — a square measuring less than a foot on each side — I ripped out the seams three times before I decided that my final attempt really didn’t look all that bad. What happened was that I kept getting comfortable, feeling in the groove, then inevitably would “lead-foot” the pedal and speed off course.

I’m a beginner, and I was going for too much, too soon.

This week, the Church begins a new liturgical year and, of course, the season of Advent. This time of year is pretty much the poster child for “too much, too soon.”

Editor's preview of this week's issue

Decorations are up; made-for-TV Christmas movies are marathoning on cable; Starbucks’ red winter wonderland cups re-entered circulation at the first of November.

With Thanksgiving falling on its latest possible date this year, we have been catapulted even more immediately into the pre-Christmas rush. Stores pledged to unlock their doors even earlier and keep them open even later. Suddenly we’re off to the races, making our shopping lists and checking them twice.

Except what if we weren’t? What if, this Advent, we made a different kind of checklist?

The In Focus in this week’s jam-packed issue (Pages 15-18) is all about slowing down and savoring the waiting and watching delights of the Advent season. Within its pages are activity recommendations from everything from lighting the traditional Advent wreath to doing service work to making an Advent paper chain.

And yes, there’s a checklist you and your family can follow — along with a slew of resources — to make sure you’re maintaining the proper spirit.

Author Mary DeTurris Poust looks particularly at three challenges commonly associated with Advent: the waiting, the consumeristic climate and the difficulty many have quieting themselves long enough to mentally prepare for what is to come. That is, for the coming of our Lord. As Pope Francis noted in a homily this fall, praying is “opening the door to the Lord,” and if there’s any time when we want to open our hearts to Jesus through prayer, it’s in anticipation of his incarnation.

One simple, but thoughtful way to do this, could be to prayerfully reflect on the readings for Mass each Sunday (so easy now with smartphones!). This time of quiet reflection might help the Word take on greater depth and stay with us longer than just during an hour a week.

However you choose to do it, please join me in slowing the clock this Advent. Rather than giving in to “too much, too soon,” let’s wait, put our shopping lists aside and prepare our minds and hearts properly for the birth of our Savior.

Thoughts? feedback@osv.com.