This week, we had a snowstorm, a snow day, and lost power for a time. There is a great freedom in losing power, even though it gets cold and the novelty of eating ice cream for lunch loses some of its joy. We can’t use screens. We can’t use the Kindle; we can’t use the computer. We can’t use the video games; we can’t watch a movie. We will have to entertain ourselves some other way, and that will mean interacting with each other.
Two of my middle children took the youngest two out sledding. I’d be hard pressed to say who loved it the most out of the four.
Three different children discovered the pleasure of blankets and books. “If I had hot cocoa, Mom, I’d never leave,” one explained. (I’d handed him A Christmas Carol.)
The second oldest made gingerbread cookie batter (she reasoned the power would come on sooner or later) while the oldest worked on her homework by hand, but, as she explained, it cut down on the distractions.
When the power came back on, those reading books still read. Those making cookie dough baked and decorated. Those sledding continued until people’s faces and fingers got too cold to stay out.
Ultimately, the snow day resulted in a slow day, a day of rest unexpected. By evening, they went to bed earlier than usual, both worn out and satisfied. The absence of technology added to the experience of life, pulled people out of their pocket universes and into a more familial one, a more Christmas-like one, such that while I rejoiced when we got lights and heat back, it still left me thinking that powering down might need to become more of a part of our lives. It refreshed us when we were not a slave to technology or being bombarded by its distractions 24-7. The minimal loss made us less dependent; it also reminded me of what we might be missing when we leave the radio on constantly, or the computer, or the Kindle, or all the other machines that crowd up modern life.
The whole purpose of Advent, indeed of having a Catholic faith at all, is to grow deeper in relationship with Christ. All the seasons of the church, all the saints, all the scriptures and sacraments, sacramental and art, all of the whole of the tradition, history, all of it, is God’s drawing with us his faulty instruments, a map that we might find Him.
We follow the star, we find Him. We follow the cross, we find him. We stay close to the sacraments, we find Him. We live out the Sermon on the Mount, we find Him.
But all of those wonderful means of bringing us to Him require that we step out of our comfort zone, that we go out into the night and follow the star, or go out onto the road and pick up our cross, or out into the world and feed the hungry. All of those means of growing deeper in love with Christ cannot happen if we are sedated from life, kept so busy and so distracted, we do not recognize we are skipping along the surface of all of our relationships, never being willing to be really changed or challenged by encountering Christ or another individual.
So this week for Advent, my small successes included:
1) Going to adoration. Letting myself forget time and place and just pray. It goes all over, but it is a deep blessing to know I can go and to let myself take this time.
2) I let my middle son take my two year old and later, my five year old Paul sledding. Not liking the cold myself, I don’t tend to think others will either, but the joy on their faces even coming in and needing to be cleaned and changed, was obvious. Plus, my older son got to be the hero in their eyes and mine for spending so much time dragging them around on sleds.
3) We are keeping to doing a little Christmas each day, despite the temptation to add on all the time, and it is bearing fruit, I’m less overwhelmed, and we haven’t spent money impulsively because we have to have something, it’s very pleasant to be so deliberate. It’s also very freeing.
4) I invited a friend over for lunch on Friday. I’d been praying to God, asking for Him to place friends in front of me and He did.
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Copyright 2013 Sherry Antonetti