Advent and Thoughts About Expectation

Source: Hans Kristian Pedersen - http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Krisph
Source: Hans Kristian Pedersen – http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Krisph

After much discussion, the husband and I decided that we’re going to spend our holidays in Philadelphia this year. We initially planned on going to New York but since we’ve been there so much this fall, and have 80 loads of procrastinated laundry to do, not to mention the dusting and purging that has fallen behind (our house looks like a candidate for Hoarders), we decided we need a few weeks to catch up. Fortunately, some of our family will come to us. Meanwhile, we get to relax.

One of the nice things about being Lutheran (What is a Lutheran?) is that the Christmas season goes from the first Sunday in Advent to Epiphany. Every week there is at least one fun event. Every holiday should be like this, but I digress.

Usually, the first Sunday of Advent is during Thanksgiving weekend and I miss church because I’m traveling. This year, I got to go, because Thanksgiving was last week. I love many things about Christmas but, in terms of celebratory things, the music really takes the cake. I love, love, love sacred Christmas music. I especially love German sacred Christmas music, and although my current church is Episcopalian (What is an Episcopalian?), we cover a few well loved carols of Germanic origin.

Unlike Lent, where you are supposed to spend the time reflecting on very serious things, Advent is all about happy things – baby Jesus, family, friends, singing, cookies, Christmas trees, parties… fun stuff. I left out presents because that’s not the point.

Anyway, at church, this week’s sermon was about anticipation. Looking forward to things is really great; the building anticipation is very exciting. But what happens when you get so hyperfocused on what you expect to happen, that you become blind to the reality of what is actually happening. So much so, that you miss it entirely.

I think to myself, wow! I know this first hand. I get hyperfocused on things all the time. And, when I give myself a chance to breathe, I worry that I am missing things all the time; that I’ve misdirected my focus on things that aren’t really important. I bet, if I had been a shepherd in the field (I like sheep) I would have been so busy gathering up the sheep, I would have missed the angels because I don’t expect angels to be in the fields at night when that is clearly the time when I’m supposed to be worried about sheep getting lost or eaten by wolves. I would have missed the entire event. These days, I am worried that I might actually be sabotaging myself and those around me from being happy because I can’t stop over-anticipating.

I’m a big fan of applying agile project management methodology to organizing my life. In agile project management, when you feel your project is getting off target, you step back and re-evaluate your goals and priorities. For me, this means that this Advent season, I am going to clear my head and take a break from trying to prepare, or forcing those around me to prepare (I can hear the cheering from the Pumpkin now!), for every possible thing that might happen in the near or distant future. I am going to give up anticipating certain doom for the month and just let things go. I am sure nothing is going to fall apart (I’ll have to be brave and face my fears…).

Hopefully, I will clear my head and gain some new clarity for the new year so I can put my energy toward something productive and worthwhile.

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