There is renewal in the the air.
Barely perceptible to some, change is upon us. Light and life have returned in a new way. Suddenly, all around me, I see a renewed sense of humility and gratitude, family, and faith. There is renewal in the very air we breathe.
Have you seen it or felt it personally? In your own life, have you experienced evidence of humility, gratitude, family, faith, love, joy, and peace?
In my own family, I have seen something new.
Around mid-September, my daughter and I celebrated the fall season with pumpkins, mums, and colorful leafy offerings around our doors. For both of us, annual renewal usually comes via this cinnamon and spice deep dive on the occasional brisk morning. But, this year, it was different.
Throughout the fall, I saw renewal, the handiwork of God in our personal lives and the lives of those I love.
Generally, when I think of fall in Mississippi, it is the change in the deeper color of the clear blue sky and the brisk breeze beckoning us outdoors that creates change within us. Without a doubt, the autumn changes are welcome and sure, but the clearest change this year was in attitudes and how we felt beyond the weather.
I began to respond with whispered prayer, more like the way I used to pray, naturally as a breath.
I sensed it again around Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving-Christmas season is my favorite time of year, full of family connection and remembering, sealed with gathering. In preparation for all the festivities, we pulled out the greenery to deck the halls. We added sparkly white lights and hung the garlands over doors. Then, we put up a tree and slowly decorated it over a week.
Then, on Thanksgiving weekend, we gathered at my daughter’s home as a family.
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20
The prayers spoken at the Thanksgiving table remained with us rippling through the Christmas season, renewing our spirits.
With awareness of the hand of God on our lives, I experienced God sending more renewal in quiet thoughts. Even now, I am having a more joyful experience.
As the daylight ended earlier each afternoon, my husband and I hung wreaths for Christmas, then made deep red bows for all the greenery to brighten the house indoors and out.
I feel this way every December, compelled to add more lights to illuminate the month’s darkness, and make it more beautiful and cheerful.
To be honest, I have to fight depression all year round, but the winter takes effort. With so much personal loss during past holidays, it is vital to my well-being to shake off loss and participate in traditions and gatherings.
With mental and spiritual health in mind, let’s take in each month’s joys and allow ourselves to experience God’s touch through the season. In Him, we will be renewed, revived and refreshed.
As a bonus, our ripples in the pond will do the same for others.
With awareness, every shimmering garland, carol, or Christmas song, God’s presence refreshes our spirit.
However, to reap the benefits of His renewal in full, we have to be present in the moment.
To be present physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, we have to let go of spinning thoughts, regret, worry, and a multitude of distractions.
If it sounds exhausting, don’t worry. Being in the moment is joyful and peaceful.
First, stop thinking about the next thing, the next day, the past trauma. Be where you are right now.
Secondly, take yourself off autopilot.
Third, turn your attention to where you are and who you are with. Put down your distractions.
When I say present, I mean in the moment you are in currently, not distracted with your phone, tv or computer. If you are sitting on the couch scrolling through your phone, you will miss it.
Overall, remember, in the midst of our fall and winter celebrations is Jesus, Immanuel, God with us.
He is the true Light of the world and will bring light to the dark places. His Light illuminates the corners of our minds and hearts which then can be swept clean and washed white as snow.
Finally, when we open our hearts to the light and are present in the moment, God is already working. He is stirring up humility and thankfulness, goodwill and peace. These make beautiful ripples in the pond.
Joy to the world, the Lord has come…
With peace and goodwill towards all people,
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
When God is present: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22, 23a