I remember the first time Advent came and went without much intentionality on my part. Felicity, our firstborn, was only six weeks old when Christmas Day arrived, and I lamented to my mother that it just didn’t feel like I even had an Advent that year. She smiled knowingly and simply said, “Honey, you’ve been living your Advent this year.”
Ever since, finding sacred time has become more and more of a rarity. Naturally, after we welcomed Sarah into our family, I was thrust again not only into the world of constant care for a newborn, but also a foreign place of diagnostic tests, specialists, and medical doctors. That year, it happened to be Holy Week when Sarah made her earthly debut, but it was no less a feeling of frenetic frenzy that captured my attention more than slowing down and entering into the holiest time of year.
Chronos & Kairos Time
About a year after we had Sarah, I once again broached this subject about never feeling as if I was making much time for prayer and reflection, only this time it was to my spiritual director. It seemed I was doing something wrong, going about the liturgical seasons without hitting the mark somehow. Her response was simple: “Jeannie, God has given you Kairos time in the midst of your life.”
Not really knowing what she meant, I learned that chronos time is “clock time.” In other words, it’s chronological — the time we’re all accustomed to living and which we are all equally given. But Kairos time literally means “the inbreaking of the eternal,” which simply means that God exists outside of time. And there are occasions or even seasons in our lives when He grants us the privilege of existing in His time rather than ours.
What does that mean for us in creating a sacred space, especially as we enter into the flurry of activities from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day? Here are a few suggestions to help you get started on moving from clock time to God’s time:
Be Open to God’s Movements
Despite the inevitable rush of events, God will still break through your busyness. The key is listening to Him, being attentive to His stirrings, and always watching and waiting for small signals He sends to you throughout your day.
This has become crucial to my spiritual growth these days. Often, I feel as if I can’t breathe, because everything is moving too quickly, and I can’t process it all emotionally and spiritually like I need to. But then God interrupts me with something simple: often it’s a song, a smile, a hug from one of my daughters, a compliment from a stranger, a squirrel frolicking outside my kitchen window, or the gentle rustling of autumn leaves in my yard.
Be open. That’s how you connect yourself with God and make your time sacrosanct.
Adjust Your Expectations
Holidays are often a time for celebrating family traditions, which is a beautiful gift we pass on from generation to generation. But when perfecting or maintaining every single one becomes paramount to whether or not you enjoy the time with family and friends, you’ll find yourself spiraling into overwhelm and frustration.
Sacred time and space can only be experienced and created, respectively, when we surrender our time to God. That means offering everything you do to Him. For me, it’s waking up each day with my to-do list, but offering it to Him in prayer before my feet hit the ground. I’m almost certain that something will have to be dropped or unexpectedly added, and my disappointment only adds to the stress.
Be a Good Steward of Your Time
People ask me all the time with incredulity, “How do you do it all?” I’m never sure how to answer the question. For a while, my response was simply, “I don’t waste my time,” but that started sounding condescending, I realized. An acquaintance was visiting me not long ago and corrected me by saying, “You are a good steward of your time.”
If you want to enter into Advent and Christmas with peace and clarity, even spiritual rejuvenation, then it’s important to be a good steward of the time you have — regardless of how little there seems to be of it. In other words, don’t squander what you don’t really have. If you find yourself stressing at the last minute to get things put together, try to plan ahead if possible.
One thing that works for me is to use snippets of about ten to fifteen minute increments of time. It’s incredible what I can accomplish. Often, this is in between an appointment and waiting for Sarah to get off the school bus, or a phone call and finishing up the laundry. I call these my “stolen moments and borrowed time,” because they are so precious and few that I choose to use that time to make an outline for an article I’m writing or meal plan for the week or catch up on paying bills.
Regardless, stewardship includes the way we manage our time. Are we using it wisely and to glorify God, or are we fiddling around with time-wasters like social media and internet browsing?
Again, be available to God. After all, everything in your life is His gift to you. Make your time a gift to Him.