The Simplicity of a Peaceful Holiday
By Stephanie Gretchen Burgevin. Stephanie is a writer and retreat leader. She is an associate faculty member of Shalem and a graduate of their Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats Program and leads spiritual and secular programs. Stephanie manages Shalem’s blog and is one of the social media coordinators for the Shalem Institute Facebook page.
I can get myself stressed out from over doing as well as anyone, but somehow I manage to keep the peace for Christmas.
I wasn’t always this way. I could get myself so wrapped around the axel that I’d be cleaning baseboards before I hosted Christmas Eve dinner! Luckily, for me and my family, I gave that up! (Shudder!)
My son and fiancé were talking the other day about how they feel the pressure of the season, getting the “right” gift for someone, getting all regular and then seasonal tasks done. It sounded like a long list of strict to-dos.
They asked me how I wasn’t getting uptight. It’s just Grace (and some work on letting go!).
When I think of why Advent is special to me, it is because of the magic of the season. The place I go to in order to keep it this way is midnight service in the church where I grew up. All the lights would be out except a few candles. It would all be quiet. The church was packed. The anticipation grew as you sat in the dark. You could hear the choir gathering outside the sanctuary. You knew something special was coming. Then, they would start to sing Silent Night a cappella as they passed the candle flame to each worshipper there until the whole church was filled with light and beauty and music. This scene still brings tears to my eyes. I think it’s the blessings of sheer delight of sight and sound, of unity and togetherness, of love for one another, of the hope and joy that that night signifies, and most of all, the palpable sense of the Holy being so strongly among us.
Somehow that is the moment I carry with me during this season of waiting and it keeps me grounded and connected.
It’s a simple story of anticipation and enough preparation to have an open heart and to just show up, of the light emerging from the dark, and then beauty and joy, (and in this case heavenly singing).
Blessings and peace to you and your loved ones this holy-day season.