Pausing Before Christmas

Today will probably present the last opportunity many of us have for a short pause before we are hurled into the maelstrom of Christmas preparations and celebrations. Some will be excited and hopeful; others tired and perhaps a bit crotchety; most of us will probably be too busy to register how we feel, we shall just get on with things.

I think ‘just getting on with things’ is exactly right. We are not called to be wondermen or wonderwomen. We are called to be human; and being human means accepting that we are weak and fallible at times. No matter how hard we try to make things perfect for others (or even ourselves), they never will be in this life. We live with imperfection, and it is a very good thing that we do. Otherwise, we should become completely impossible!

Today, if you can, try to make space for a minute or two alone with the Lord. Read through the readings for Christmas Mass, especially the Preface, and find a word or phrase you can take with you through the next few days. Return to it when you feel you are becoming stressed or agitated; silently recall it if you feel low; keep it close to you if you have to do something or spend time with someone you don’t much like. Let the Word take root in you, that you may welcome Him afresh on Christmas morning.


Pausing for Breath

It is something I have to do more often these days when confronted with a flight of stairs or a steep slope (I have sarcoidosis, which means my lungs don’t work as well as they should). At first, I was irate. Why would my lungs no longer obey me? Why should I have to huff and puff and come to an ignominious stop every now and then? I found a dozen different ways of pretending I was stopping to admire something or other (a bit unconvincing half-way up a flight of office stairs). Finally I decided to be honest and just admit that I needed to pause for breath. Now I let people rush past or stare at me wondering whether to offer help and don’t feel embarrassed. Pausing for breath has taught me to take nothing for granted; to wonder at the simple act of breathing; to find joy in the ability of others to run and jump and do all the things I can’t. In an odd kind of way, I think pausing for breath has helped me grow up a little. What has helped you?