From 18th-century poet and hymn-writer William Cowper:
A life all turbulence and noise may seem
To him that leads it wise and to be praised.
But wisdom is a pearl with most success
Sought in still waters.
–Cited by Sandra Felton in Living Organized: Proven Steps for a Clutter-Free and Beautiful Home (Revell, 2004), Kindle Highlight loc. 799-800.
Well, the "turbulence and noise" of the holiday shopping is already hitting the airwaves, social media, mailed flyers, and emailed ads. I don't know about you, but the older I get the louder and more obnoxious those holiday gifts ads seem to be. And, it is starting even earlier and earlier each year that by the time we get to Christmas, we are exhausted. And no rest for the weary because the ads start up for "After Christmas shopping!"
It has gotten to the point where Halloween characters and Thanksgiving turkeys are getting all up in Santa's face to say, "Hey, just wait! This isn't your season." Yes, life gets turbulent and noisy around this time of year and it seems to get louder and louder, and we seem to buy into this state of life as normal. If we are not careful we will allow them to become our "state of mind." Which leads me to the question I ask us today, "How busy is too busy?"
I have learned over the years when preparing for Advent and moving into this liturgical season, if I do not watch how I schedule my time, fill up my calendar, show up for special holiday concerts, or even shop for loved ones, I try, as I shared in last Sunday's message, to keep calm, be watchful, be alert. Granted, it is not for the purpose Jesus spoke of in Mark 13 about the "end times." Rather, it is being watchful and alert concerning my spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being. If calmness is not even "in my neighborhood," then I need to take actions that will allow me "to see the pearl in the still waters" that Cowper spoke of in his poem. Fortunately for me, God sent Jesus "to my neighborhood and yours" to remind us God's presence is with us in all times. As well, in Jesus, God sent to us the Prince of Peace.
How busy is too busy? It is much more than saying "Jesus is the reason for the season" while we continue at a "crazy busy" pace and succumb to the noise of holiday season! Perhaps, too busy is when we don't "check in" with our whole self and we push away all those signs that tell us we are anything but calm. I invite you to keep checking yourself — spiritually, physically, emotionally — this holiday season so you will be able embrace the Prince of Peace given to the world for a reason.
I encourage you this week as we prepare to give thanks for the blessings we have, let us start our practice of "being watchful and alert and calm" with families and friends.