by Rev. Davena Jones, Associate Conference Minister
No, I did not miss spell the word “presents” as in wrapped gifts. These last years have been challenging to navigate in a time of chaos and change. In this season of preparation for the presence of the holy one, Jesus Christ, how are you finding moments of self-care and soul-care?
This year, Advent might just be a season of joyful opportunity in a world of stressful chaos. It’s a season of waiting instead of instant gratification, a season of quiet anticipation in so much noise.
As we move through the next week towards Christmas we have the rare opportunity to stay put, slow down, and simplify. Finding hope amid the daily challenges in our path. You must commit to it, seek out the beauty right where you are, take in the moments of awe. Name the precious gifts in your midst in a personal and intentional way. And, should you find yourself losing hope, return to prayer and begin again. You can always start again.
I am not an expert; however, I am a companion on this life journey. Trust me: I don’t have this down, far from it. But I know from experience that something shifts when I commit to self- and soul-care — and living in the moment of right now with gratitude for what is rather than focusing on what I think should be. My heart softens, my breathing slows, my nerves settle, and suddenly, there is beauty all around and within me. I am in the presence of myself and the Holy Spirit. Only then can I move towards being present for those I’m blessed to serve.
Too often there’s concern that self-care is a selfish act. No! You have to start with you. A more precise definition of self-care is any activity or practice promoting your well-being and renewal. For me, it looks like working out in the mornings each week, going to bed at a decent hour, and making time to watch one of my favorite television shows before going to bed. This combination goes a long way to help me lean into self-care, which allows me to manage stress and promote well-being so I can sit in the presence of others.
Journaling may not be your favorite thing to do. You may prefer Pilates over weight lifting, and yup, that’s okay too. Identify which activities help you feel restored and rejuvenated. Think about the things you like to do that energize you or help you feel peaceful. These activities are your self-care strategies.
In this season of Advent, I encourage you to commit to spiritual self-care that will not only soothe your soul during these challenging days but will transform your life from the inside out. Little by little, you’ll find that the outside world, with its bad news and daily threats, can’t shake the quiet joy that lives in your heart. The secular world has never really understood Advent, which is such a loss, because now more than ever we need the joyful hope that comes from being willing to wait, to watch, to find the miracle hidden in plain sight: no overnight shipping or gift wrap required. May you gift yourself with love, hope, peace, and joy!