In a recent lectionary study class, our readings were for Advent I, the first Sunday in Advent. The class was small this day, so each of us had an opportunity to read some of the passages aloud. After the reading, the discussion began with some thoughts about this quiet time of Advent in the midst of Christmas season din – the noise that surrounds us.
The discussion veered off about exclamation points people often use when texting. One doesn’t seem to be enough anymore. Several exclamation points are better heard. Frankly, even the one exclamation is often unnecessary. And then more conversation about the ALL CAPS texts and e-mails.
I volunteered that I had just that morning received a message followed by a burst of confetti.
Out rector suggested we might view Advent as a confetti-free zone.
That got my attention. Now I’m considering how to do this.
I returned last night from a quick two-day travel lark. My best friend and I spent about 24 hours in Athens, GA. After picking her up at Hartsfield-Jackson, we enjoyed an amazing lunch at Ford Fry’s (a restauranteur of Atlanta and Houston fame) El Felix. From there it was straight to 1000 Faces coffee roasters in Athens. A real favorite.
With the first sip, things slowed down. Even became leisurely. Gentle enjoyment of a place where opportunities to slow down abound.
We drove over to R. Wood pottery studio. I’ve long collected Rebecca’s ceramic pieces.
Wandering in the midst of the many finished dinnerware and one-of-a-kind pieces in the studio, was like being in a garden. I had a lovely chat with Rebecca about how her plates set out for a recent dinner gathering at my home had drawn us all to the table for a shared meal.
We closed out this day with a movie and a small meal. Then good rest. Our lives have been filled to the brim, even overflowing at times with tasks and activities. This short travel lark began to set the stage for going without confetti for awhile.
In the morning we walked to 1000 Faces for breakfast. Time was indeed slowing. The trees along the walk are in the midst of shedding their leaf confetti.
I picked up a copy of The Flagpole as I finished my coffee. This caught my eye:
It was just after nine. “Should we go? Can we make it? Do we want to try? Yes!”
Sometimes you need to hurry to get to a place of mindfulness. A “high-speed” walk back to the hotel, a dash to the room to get the car keys, and a short drive to the museum … we arrived in time to queue up, grab a stool, and then the mindfulness hour began.
It was SO worth the hurry-up. Truthfully, however, I got distracted before it was over. I veered out of the room during a gazing exercise where I encountered this tree. Made up of separate images, manipulated in the dark room, it drew me in to gaze, consider, and be still.
Early afternoon we drove to Augusta so I could drop Beth off at the Order of Saint Helena convent, where she would be on a two-day silent retreat.
I imagine this is a really good way to go confetti-free. Instead for me, it was a 5-hour slog drive home.
Orchards of peach trees have gone confetti-free.
A detour on my drive added a couple of hours to the trip. I needed to pick up my custom-made Christmas tree.
Now this tree is a perfect example of confetti-free.
Advent I is tomorrow. As lector, I will read aloud the lessons which brought about the lectionary conversation about shouting. There’s a sense of shouting about upheaval in Luke’s Gospel. There’s mention of the natural world roaring and of the calamities that arose. We are reminded of the calamities of our own day. While we could be overwhlelmed, Jesus tells us to see these events with different eyes. Instead of being depressed or filled with inertia, Christians can see challenges.
John Gardner echoes the theme of treasure hidden in disaster: “We are all continually faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.”
It’s time to enter the confetti-free zone.