Pray, Work, Rest & Play: Advent, Week 1

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“Sister Maria Assumpta walked up to the board and put up a basic compass shape. Rather than north, south, east, and west, she replaced them with work, rest, play, and pray. Very simply, she told us, “Your lives should always live in a balance with these four things.”

Welcome back to our weekly series — Pray, Work, Rest & Play — where we share a bit about how we’re striving to incorporate an order, a rule of sorts, to our daily routine here at Das Schmidt Haus. A routine that organically involves prayer, work, rest, and play. How are you incorporating these into your daily routine?

 Pray

With its simplicity and order, the season of Advent speaks uniquely to my emerging Benedictine spirituality. I absolutely love this time of the year. This week we bless the Advent wreath and light the “hope” candle.

Come, Lord Jesus! Come and visit your people. 
We await your coming.  Come, O Lord.

Advent-Week1

Advent-Week1-hope

We moved our Advent wreath away from the dining room table and into our prayer room this year. I thought it would be good to use our domestic sanctuary as our gathering place for evening Advent prayers. But I may reconsider. When our wreath sat on the dining room table, we would light the appropriate number of candles at dinner time and offer our prayers for the day as we broke bread together. And given the candles were lit throughout dinner, they burnt down quickly. At least week 1 and 2 candles did. Seeing those candle butts and having to purchase a new package of candles midway through Advent was a small measure of success, you know? Hey girl, you’re doing this well. I need those small successes these days.

So yeah, I’m reconsidering the wreath’s location . . .

I’m also praying the St. Andrew Christmas novena each day of Advent, offering up a very special intention related to my vocational discernment. Might as well place these prayers at the feet of a pregnant Virgin Mary.

Would love to pray for you, friends. Share your intentions with me, please?

Work

So the feast of St. Nicholas is quickly approaching — December 6. As in this Friday and not December 25. Are we Christians still reserving the 25th for the feast of Jesus? We are, right?

Feasts-StNickMantle.jpg

So how do you celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas? Do you allow it to quietly pass by or have you developed traditions around Nicholas, the would-be saint who gave to the poor. Our Das Schmidt Haus traditions are slowly developing as our family grows, but it’s shaping into a day when the kids wake up to stuffed stockings and new Christmas jammies. We also read Saint Nicholas: The Story Behind the Real Santa Claus throughout the week and explore the St. Nicholas Center for Kids online. And check out this printable nifty St. Nicholas memory game.

And we’re excited to add another stocking to the mantle this year.

Lydia Stocking

But I’m thinking about doing something new this year in honor of jolly ol’ St. Nick. It’s something that would require a bit of work and a dose of healthy courage. In our neighborhood we are greeted with candy hearts and cards of love on February 14, makeshift baskets full of popcorn on May 1, and “You’ve been booed!” Halloween-inspired treats throughout the month of October. Is it time to return the sweet treat gesture with St. Nicholas Surprises?

Feasts-StNickCoins

More ideas found here but the gist is that on the evening of December 5, the kids and I stuff little gift bags with nuts, a clementine, chocolate coins, and candy canes for kids in the neighborhood. The bags also should include a poem or prayer card sharing the story behind the real Santa Claus. Then we can sneak out in the dark of the evening and hang bags on our neighbor’s doorknobs.

What do you think? And who’s with us?

Rest

A quick glance at the calendar shows the weekends in December are all scheduled up. All good things — family Christmas gatherings, Joel’s diaconate studies, a baptism celebration, a wedding, a baby shower, and a few other church-related events. All the more reason to guard our family’s daily routine and bring everything down a notch. I must take my advice about “going negative this Advent,” and be mindful to savor afternoon quiet time with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other these next four weeks.

Play

While mama’s away, the family will play. Look at all the fun I missed while grocery shopping this past weekend.

Lucy Jumping in Leaves

Lucy in Leaves 2013

Lucy - Leaves 2013

Jude in Leaves 2013

One of the kids even captured Joel having fun!

Joel Jumping in Leaves 2013

Or did the dog take that picture?

Joel Jumping in Leaves - Sophie - 2013

How are you incorporating Pray, Work, Rest & Play into your daily routine this week?

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