My husband has been reading a book called Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Dr. Richard A. Swenson. At times Steve has shared some of what he has read with me, and a passage he read last night really caught my imagination and set me to thinking overtime about the subject of anticipation and reflection.
Dr. Swenson suggested that in the hurried, overloaded pace of life that many of us are negotiating, we have lost both the lovely sense of anticipation and the contented art of reflection. Because we move so rapidly from one activity to another, we don’t relish the waiting for a special event. The author talked about a family vacation he announced eighteen months in advance. Then he wrote about how much fun he and his family had planning various aspects of the trip, learning about places they would go, and just looking forward to the time they would spend together.
In a like manner, he suggested that afterwards the trip would be talked about. In days and months and years to come family members would spend time telling various stories and recalling incidents, enjoying scrapbooking the pictures that had been taken, and generally making specific time to reminisce about how wonderful the trip had been.
Do these ideas inspire you? They inspired me to think about the entire subject of anticipation. How can I, for myself as well as my family, learn to slow down enough to develop a sense of anticipation? How do I remove myself from the rat race long enough to have time to enjoy anticipating?
It seems to me that even though we sometimes have to move quickly through life, I think the answer lies in our basic mindset. Developing a sense of peace amidst the windy-ness and stormy-ness of life is essential. If we can stay at peace inside, moving with wisdom and calmness no matter what is happening on the outside…we will be able to quietly anticipate and then quietly look back in enjoyment. If we can accomplish this peaceful demeanor then we can begin to lead our family in it, also.
The same is true for time spent reflecting on special occasions, small incidents that were meaningful, a beautiful flower we noticed or a kind deed done by one of our children to another. Time to reflect…It’s not easy if we don’t develop the habit. If we race distractedly from one thing to another, the enjoyment over each specific event or moment will be lost in the shuffle.
After considering these ideas, I am trying to calm down enough (at least on the inside) to make more time to ponder, to reflect upon: how wonderfully an event went, how nice it was to be served in the restaurant, how meaningful a friend’s gift, how well written a poem or story. Beautiful ponderings, these arts of anticipation and reflection!
As we begin this Advent season, this waiting, purpose to enjoy this time with a quiet heart. Make choices to slow down and share with your children that you are doing so. Teach them to enjoy a season of rest and waiting as children and watch them begin to appreciate the sweet gift of joy in the little things!
Choose to slow down this season!
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