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  • Claire Aston

Advent and the art of waiting

It's the first Friday of Advent, and, sitting amongst a collection of Advent calendars, I have been pondering what it means to wait.



This year, of all years, we have all had to learn the art of waiting. Waiting for the end of Lockdown (twice), waiting to see friends and family, (still) waiting to see them in a warm living room or pub rather than on yet another walk (even the dog is now tired of those).


I wonder what we've all been doing whilst we wait? Is there anything that might help?


It struck me this week that waiting for Christmas is actually quite fun, even if the actual event will be different this year. We've created a ritual around waiting and preparation that provides a rhythm, and sense of anticipation. I love an Advent candle, so every morning we light two (an experiment to see whether red or green wax burns quickest, the jury is still out), and open a collection of calendars to reveal chocolate, LEGO Star Wars characters, a dog treat, and a mini story book outlining part of the Christmas story. We cover all bases...





We each have something to do, and there's a sense of a story unfolding along the way. And I think both of these aspects are key - taking action, and building a narrative.


It's easy to feel quite passive in the midst of a pandemic; to have a sense that we are being 'done to', as opposed to creating our own story. When we aren't able go where we'd wish, or perhaps work as we would wish, it can feel hard to get motivated each morning. Certainly, for me, November felt quite long and dark, without much exciting to look forward to.


Whereas December, though still pretty dark and chilly, has a sense of anticipation about it, helped by the simple daily rituals of opening all those doors and lighting the candles.


I don't know what your situation is, what you're looking forward to, or what you're waiting for.


But multiple studies have shown that having a healthy routine is vital to mental health. And if that routine can include choosing something simple to do each day, ideally reminding you of what you're waiting for, then so much the better in the current, uncertain, climate.


I've written before about how vital storytelling is to life, especially during change. So I think we need to keep writing our own stories; remembering every one of them will be different.


Looking at the Christmas story each morning, I'm reminded that it felt different for everyone involved - the shepherds, for example, had their own, unique experience (socialising outdoors as they were...)


My experience is not yours, and yours is not mine. But I have a feeling that if we can all find simple things to do each day that help us tell our own stories, we may find waiting easier.

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