Last year, I was about 7 months pregnant during Advent. I had all these idyllic thoughts of a super spiritual Advent, being that I was waiting the birth of my baby while we were awaiting the birth of Mary's baby. I had a book (which was wonderful) of reflections connecting my pregnancy to Mary but, honestly, that was about all I did besides the penance service. We did a fairly secular advent calendar and generally busied ourselves with life, instead of taking the time to slow down. Advent finished up and I felt like I had wasted an opportunity to grow closer to Mary and to God.
This year, though, I think things will be different. We're in a very different place spiritually than we were last year. Last year, our "norm" was much more intense, despite what I just said about Advent. We were going to daily Mass at least once a week, I was volunteering in the church, we went to confession at least quarterly, we did a weekly rosary, and we did quite a few other things to keep us connected to our faith. I would say that I was the most connected to God during my pregnancy (but unrelated to being pregnant, if that makes sense) than I've ever been. I knew it would change when we had a baby, but I didn't realize how much I'd feel like I was losing on the spiritual front. We didn't say a rosary for MONTHS. I haven't been to daily Mass a single time in the last 9 months. I've been to confession once. Parenthood has of course connected us to God in other ways, like learning sacrificial love in a big, big way, but I lost a lot of those tangible things and activities that I felt kept me connected.
This Advent feels like a breath of fresh air and a chance to begin reconnecting, or strengthening, our faith. We received 2 different daily reflection books and I'm so excited to go through them. I feel like a daily reflection feels so doable and not at all overwhelming, and is the perfect place for us to start, or re-start. We decided that instead of our typical Advent calendar (where we put some type of activity be it a prayer, board game, show, movie, walk, drive to see lights, etc) for each day, we are going to simplify this year and make the daily devotional be our Advent calendar. After all, isn't that a lot of what Advent is about? Simplifying our lives so we can focus on watchful waiting, instead of adding more busy-ness to our already full lives. I want to share with Felicity that prepping for Christmas is good and fun, but that taking a step back from the holiday chaos to focus on God and each other is so important! So we don't have "big plans" this Advent, but I think that's exactly what we need.... a time to slow down and reconnect with God in comforting, familiar ways. A time to invest in ourselves after 9 beautiful months of investing almost solely in our baby, as we wait for the baby Jesus. Happy and blessed Advent!