I was awake at four this morning, puttering around my home, restless.
Restless soul. Restless mind. Restless heart.
I read the word J O Y. It was hanging up across the room from me, nudging me into the spirit of the season in holly and jolly red and white paint on faux distressed wood.
Where are you?
I lingered by our Advent tree, looking at the numbers, seeing just how quickly we’re sliding through the holidays, yet again. The thought, this year, was to have doing the Advent door on the tree be more than just a nightly treat of Palmer’s foil wrapped chocolate balls and bells, while we check off the days until Christmas.
The thought was, take your candy, but leave a note of thanks in its place. The thought was, the children will then pull out the note and a candy next year, and be reminded of what they were thankful for in this particular season of their lives.
At four in the morning, with a cluttered heart and cloudy, restless, brain, my thought was, I needed the clarity of being a child at Christmas.
And so, I opened the door to the first day of Advent.
There was green and gold chocolate ball rolling around inside. No note.
I remembered Evaline, when we asked what she was thankful for, she told us with a chocolate grin, candy.
Apparently, unable to write candy, she sneaked one back into the door instead.
-other doors –
A couple of hours passed and the kids all woke up.
Alex sat right behind me, crunching on what seemed to be the crispiest waffle ever.
Asher smeared the counter with the peanut butter from his toast.
Lila began a list for Santa, and then whined about all how I NEVER let her do what SHE wants to do, when I announced it was time to start actual school work.
Evaline wanted to be on my lap, and only on my lap, but I was attempting to finish editing a wedding and couldn’t be the snuggling mom she wanted in that moment.
By the mid-afternoon, I realized she was not just cranky or needy, but actually, sick to her stomach.
(Where was that joy again? The one I thought I had figured out when it was still dark out?)
By the time the sun was going down, I was dead on my feet.
And, of course, this is when I was reminded that church musical rehearsal was happening.
In half an hour.
What’s a little trek out in the dark and freezing rain with a sick and cranky three year old and your other squabbling children, when you’re bleary-eyed and exhausted? Piece of cake.
I stood in the doorway of my friend’s house when I came home, my eyes barely staying open.
You should go to bed as soon as Vinnie gets home, he told me.
Oh, that won’t happen, I half smiled.
Me, in bed, before midnight. Ha.
Well, you should go take a nap right now, he urged, bordering on parental concern.
A nap. Me, nap. Highly unlikely.
There was probably coffee somewhere, or I could brew fresh.
Upstairs, my bed was covered in laundry piles. A two year old and three year old were watching Barbie Life in the Dream House in my living room. Thoughts of the dinner I needed to cook were hovering over me.
And…I laid down. Actually, I flat out collapsed, right on top of unfolded towels and twists of flannel pajama pants and ankle socks.
Five minutes later, Netflix stopped working, the dog started sniffing at my legs and barking, Evaline crawled up and squeezed herself beside me, nose-to-nose, dinner still needed to be cooked.
But, honestly? Those five, quiet, purposefully-sitting-still minutes, they were wonderful.
And I am reminded, as is necessary every now and again, when life tends to pick up speed – stillness is a discipline.
It’s like love, which isn’t a feeling, but rather, an action.
It’s a choice.
And, as it turns out, the reduction of news feeds and social media noise only eliminates the periphery.
Without the periphery clanging and banging and distracting, you’re simply left with more time to hear the noise of your own life- the annoying sounds, like the crunching and salivating of your son chewing directly behind your head.
But also, the noises of your heart, the ones that stir you through the night, until you get out of bed and putter. The noises that rattle you around until you’re exhausted enough to fall face first into a pile of laundry for five minutes and call it a worthwhile nap.
Stillness and peace (and joy) take practice.
So, I’m learning. Five minutes at a time.