My kids are super into advent things, calendars, candles, traditions. Asa calls his 24-days-of-chocolate calendar his “Admin” or, more recently “Admint.” It’s adorable, but yesterday, as I balanced the buying, packing, wrapping, enrolling, filing, attending, editing, feeding, and “just circling back on that cancelled subscription that still keeps showing up on my credit card statements” I realized that Asa is right. It’s admin season. It’s trying to do “special” when “ordinary” is already so. damn. much.
Y’all. I am SO BAD at admin. I’m actually great at finding deeper meaning, at focusing in on the sacred, at making things special. I’m TERRIBLE at the ordinary. I spent most of 5th grade in the front office calling my mom to bring the homework I’d forgotten. I have to have a tracking device on my keys. When my routine is thrown off, I will lose all the things. For someone like me, adding tasks and to-do lists and “please send your child with one (1) personal snack item, one (1) wrapped secret Santa, two (2) group snacks, all the library books they’ve lost, and four (4) permission slips for various Christmas activities” is disruptive to routine in the worst way. Admin Season feels like a collision between who I need to be and who I am.
I’m tough on myself, because I think it’s my brain—which can either hyper focus on one thing, or militantly obsess about every tiny thing with seemingly no in between—failing me. But reading the rest of y’all’s posts and from the here-and-there chats I’ve picked up on…very few of us feel like the excesses of the holidays are sources of love, joy, peace, and hope. Two things are true: we were not made for this, and this was not made for us.
I feel that way about so much right now in the world, and Admin season seems to be bringing it all up, emphasizing how unsustainable it all is, how relentless the demand for “more,” how crooked are the paths twisted by greed and violence.
All week I’ve been meditating on peace, and what it means to have peace in Admin Season when you’re tired and over-administrated and under-nourished because all of your friends are also being stretched to their limits. What does it mean to be present when you’re surrounded by to-do lists? Can forgiveness make the world feel less hostile? Can we have peace in a violent world?
Yesterday I attended an event put on by a joint coalition of Catholic and Jewish leadership in San Antonio. It was a beautiful hour of songs and ceremony, focused especially on the common practice of candle lighting. Candle lighting has been, in many traditions an act of defiance against scarcity, suppression, and isolation. And yet candlelight is also so peaceful. It is gentle light, not a flood light or a blaze. It is a little assertion that we are simply here, and that is enough. We have not been snuffed out, but we are not in conquering mode right now. We are simply here. A little light. A little warmth. Doing what we can where we are, holding onto Advent, not Admin to sustain us.
What you will find in these newsletter-style blog posts:
Brain kindling to start your mind fire
Spirit kindling to start your heart fire
Conversation kindling to gather people to your fire
Giggle kindling to warm you up.
I wrote this devotional for Unsettling Advent about the prophets call for us to “prepare the way of the Lord.”
Talking with Amy Julia Becker is a delight, and her podcast is balm for the soul.
Best Christmas Hymns (Probably my lease controversial/most basic opinions)
- Hark the Herald Angels Sing
- O Holy Night
- O Come O Come Emmanuel
- Joy to the World
- O Little Town of Bethlehem