Stop reading the news.
This is my conclusion. I think I finally (and it should be surprising that this took me just about two years) reached a saturation point. I think I started to say I wanted to read less of the news several months ago (I think around November 2020), but it took a long while to do anything about it. Frankly, it was entertaining: not in the sense of “Oh, I am enjoying this so much” but rather “This is something engaging and interesting to do.”
Around November 2020, I read this excellent reflection by a Phoenix friend. It certainly challenged me and assuaged some of my fears that by not keeping up with COVID, politics, and stupid things said by someone in power I was being a sub-par citizen. I have thought some time that lives ought to be lived locally, and now I began to wonder if we should keep our thoughts local as well. Of course the answer is yes, for where your thoughts, time, and energy are, there your heart will be also.
I suppose this is the next of many steps I have taken to be truly present. When everything wants a bit of us and our attention, I have found the solution is to just say “No” to the things that want more of you than they ought. To often, we settle into our prideful belief that we can succeed where others fail. Instead, fight back against the thing that is preying on your weakness (be it fear, lack of self-control, need for affirmation, etc). This has been my approach to social media, smartphones, and now, news media.
What does this have to do with Advent? Coincidence. Or, if in the Divine plan there is none of that, Providence.
Advenio (v) – To come, arrive, arise
As we enter into the time of our thoughtful and solemn reflection on the Coming of Christ, and our anticipation of his return, it is common (within the history and traditions of Christianity) to fast from something in this season as we do during Lent. News is not what I am giving up for Advent (for if I was to announce it from the internet, that would be my reward in full). I would encourage and invite you into your own Advent fast. As I understand it, we give up things in penance as we remember our own sin that brought Christ to earth and as we keep our sight on God.
It is a time for repentance. It is a time for penance. It is a time to recognize our frailty. This is why I don’t think “Happy” is a good word to introduce Advent, but I cannot think of a better one. I say Happy to introduce a new thing but not to indicate a celebration. The celebration waits (as we do) until Christ arrives.
Here’s what else I have found helps for a meaningful Advent:
- Wait for the joyful Christmas music until Christmas Eve.
- Read the passages in Scripture about the anticipation of Christ.
- Think on the themes of darkness and light.
- Create something that helps your anticipation of Christ’s return.
- Pray like the pilgrim you are.
Finally, remember in this season the great hope which we have in Christ. Remember that our hope lies in God and not in man. Let not your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind. And His perfect love casts out fear.