As I started to think about this Blog, I hoped to link it to Advent. This year more than I’ve ever noticed before, and probably because so many people are seeking to find positives to share at this time, there are many options available to focus thoughts on the season. Advent is a time for preparation, for waiting, for anticipation, for reflection, and for looking forward. Yet in this year that has been so unusual, and so challenging for many the expectations which we consider ‘usual ‘ are needing fresh consideration. Many of us have managed the time of year in flurries of business, fitting in extra tasks of shopping, making, baking, performing and visiting. Certainly when I was working it was often an exhausting season, but one which I loved. Working in primary schools there was always a special air of excitement, as the children’s anticipation grew to contained fever pitch. Craft work, seasonal writing, and a Nativity play featured annually. Turning a classroom into something like a grotto saw me in my element, but the highlight was always the Christmas play, and the very best part of that was seeing the children’s faces as they performed for their parents. It is the one time of the school year that I still miss in retirement.
My thoughts turned to the word Advent itself, and my mind began to play with the word as I started to write. A small change to the word can make it into ‘add vent’. Apply that thought to this year, and maybe there is a need to vent our feelings about all the frustrations and sadnesses of 2020.There seems to be a general feeling of weariness now, a desire for more personal freedom, even anger at not being able to meet with loved ones. So, it is important to be able to give vent to those feelings in some way, and we need to find ways to do that which will not cause harm or upset to others. We each need to find ways that help us to come to terms with our own situations. For some that will be through being creative, expressing emotions with art or craft, or through writing, music or dance. Others will find that sense of release in doing something physical – walking, running, climbing.
Another word play turns ‘Advent’ into ‘adventure’. For all its challenges 2020 has brought a sense of adventure for many. How many of us knew about so much social media, internet communication systems, and online possibilities before lockdown in March? For me, the unexpected turn of events brought new challenges, but as I look back on the year the nervousness that I felt at first in running online meetings has lessened, my confidence has grown and I’m now experimenting with ideas that a year ago I don’t think would even have occurred to me. So, it has been an adventure,and that adventure is continuing. My expectations for Christmas are different from usual. I will be sad not to gather with my family, but we will find a way to safely share something together, and I look forward to the continuing adventure in 2021.
Whatever your situation I hope you will find something of hope and blessing during Advent.