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Purple Haze by J.G. McGlothern December 1, 2009

Filed under: From The Heart — heartwriter @ 5:27 am
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Sunday was the first day of Advent.  That may mean nothing to some of you.  To me it means more than Christmas.  Advent is that time of preparation before Christmas and to me that represents great anticipation, inwardness, and reflection.  And so often anticipation is better than the real thing.  Preparing my heart, being present to the before…awakens me and invites me to celebrate the season instead of fear it.

The past few years I haven’t made an Advent wreath because it takes up so much space and we only have one small table for meals.  The greens get old and the needles fall off.  It is just too messy.  But this year I said to hell with the mess, I want my children to experience the joys of Advent I remember as a kid and the value I get from it now as an adult.  So that means a few fallen needles to pick up, less space at the table…I’ll get over it.  It all comes back to surrendering.

We wrapped cedar branches around our metal wreath, tied on purple ribbon and holly and came up with a pretty festive Advent wreath.  I explained to my kids that each candle represents one week before Christmas, three purple and one pink, as celebrated in the Catholic tradition I grew up in.

As we lit the first candle, I was instantly brought back to my childhood dining room and could hear my mom singing, O, Come O, Come Emmanuel, in her high soprano voice. My kids had tons of questions and the wreath became quite a conversation piece that first meal with the lit candle.  More questions ensued during the next couple of meals.  When do we light the next candle?

I love the new beginning Advent represents. I made a conscious effort this morning to spend some alone time on the couch, with some words, some silence and room for God to show up.  I thought about starting breakfast, packing lunch, getting dressed. That’s when God showed up.  Don’t you dare, God seemed to say. My kids were sleeping in, my gift, and I already wanted to throw it away.  Ignore it. Toss it away.  So I sat in the quiet, breathing in the day and all its gifts, all its glory and yes, all its mess. 

By accepting my gift of some morning quiet time that meant dishes didn’t get done before heading out the door.  But you know what?  That was twelve hours ago and I can honestly say, by not having the house in perfect tidy order this morning didn’t kill anyone.  The dishes got done eventually. My children are still alive, and I didn’t yell, okay I didn’t yell more than once.  No one arrested me for dishes in the sink, dirty laundry in the basket or pine needles on the floor. 

Where will I make room for what matters tomorrow?  Will I let the dust stay on the furniture one more day in order to savor some afternoon quiet time?

We are given these little gifts and so often as mothers we feel the need to dismiss them, cover them up with guilt, ignore them as selfish acts that are just silly thoughts.

So in the mess of life this Advent I am going to try and remember no one cares how clean my house is but me…and my soul is what will thank me for being kind to it.  My house won’t re-pay with words of love and gratitude – it will just be there when I get to it.

There is a time to clean up the mess and a time to let the mess be.




4 Responses to “Purple Haze by J.G. McGlothern”

  1. Rick Rosenkranz Says:

    Great post, J-Mac. I’m approaching this Christmas season a lot differently, too, thanks to this:


    One of the things that has struck me this year, upon reflecting upon past Christmas seasons, is: when, how and why did the Christmas season seem to become such a chore? It’s supposed to be about celebration, the celebration of God’s gift to us, and NOT about all that we’ve seem to make it: Christmas cards, decorations, gift-buying, shopping, shopping, more shopping. We (or our culture) has sucked all the joy out of it, has made it a season of “doing” rather than a season of celebration. I’m approaching it without the “chore” mentality this year, much as you suggest you’re doing in your essay.

    God Bless you and your family this Christmas!

  2. Sue Says:

    Once again your words bring tears of joy to my eyes. Thank you for sharing your gift of writing – it is a beautiful expression of your faith and life.

    We have our Advent candles out and the calendars have been started. Clare helped me set them up last night. We have one that my mom made from felt and one that tells the Christmas story – no chocolate or treats, the kids can wait till Christmas.
    My your days be blessed with moments of quiet wonder.
    love & God bless – Sue

  3. angela Says:

    Thanks for the great message Jenny! A good reminder to take stop and take time for yourself, and let the chores go for awhile. We’ve never done the Advent candles, but we may start this week…a week late, but I love the idea! We’re doing a homemade daily advent calendar filled with a message of the day which Aidan is having a lot of fun with. The messages range from “enjoy a cup of cocoa by the fire” to “choose a tag off of a giving tree”. It’s been nice to come up with things they can participate in that helps us all slow down and give back.
    Here’s to many quiet moments this holiday season!
    love ang

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