Windows into the Light by Michael Sullivan

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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Thursday, December 11

Those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city.
—Luke 21:21

Advent gives us permission to go back to the wilderness, to head out of the city and seek a place of solitude and quiet where our souls rest in God. But getting away from it all is next to impossible in the midst of the holiday frenzy. Even if you keep your life simple, just going to the grocer this time of year can be demanding. With the impossibly long lines, just grabbing a few essentials can push the holiday madness upon us, whether we want it or not.

With all the hustle and bustle, how do we create a place of nothingness—a place where we engage our emptiness and accept the need for God to fill us with hope and love at Christmas? How do we get out of the city and yet still go to work, get things done, prepare for the holiday?

Small steps. Very small steps. Most of us make the mistake of demanding too much of our spiritual lives. We go from no quiet time to expecting 30 minutes a day; we go from reading or journaling next to never, to thinking it has to be a daily habit. Advent is about permission to do those things that let you get back to the wilderness slowly—at your own pace, taking baby steps that lead to a quieter, more sacred life.

So instead of setting yourself up for failure, how about thinking about three or four small things you can do this season to center yourself? Why not place a journal next to your bed and write a few lines in it each day, just before you go to sleep. There is no need to write an essay each time. Or consider a quiet day, setting apart a morning or afternoon when you turn off the television, don’t answer the phones, and take the time to read a book you’ve been thinking about. Or why not do something as simple as having a cup of tea by yourself to begin the day, before anyone else in the house is awake.

The holy life begins with small steps where you are. As you inch forward, you’ll find your way to the place God has prepared for your reflection. And little by little, you’ll find it daily. There’s really no need to head out of the city; just start taking small steps.

God give me permission to take small steps with you, small steps toward a life where I seek you in all things. Let me take your hand as we walk together each day. Amen.