As a strong P (Perceiver) on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator I have trouble making decisions, especially when there are so many options to choose from. Perceivers never have enough data. Some new piece of information confuses them and keeps them from making decisions. Someone once told me it was a good thing I said a young, impulsive “Yes” to marriage; if I had waited I never would have been able to make a decision.
When it comes to Advent, there are so many ways to practice or celebrate it. “Which Advent calendar to use?” “Which book of meditations to read?” “Purple or blue candles?” “Which books of Scripture to read?” “Which organizations, charities, and causes to send our annual gifts to?” All these questions and choices befuddle me. I realize these are First World privileges and not of major importance in the scheme of things. But these practices do provide a framework for my prayer/spiritual life. Much to my delight, I made a few choices before the third week of Advent. I chose purple candles, two Advent calendars, and one book of meditations.
The calendars below show the first eight days of Advent. On the calendar with the round stickers I wrote a line from God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The book has reflections by Bonhoeffer on Advent, a “bonus” piece of writing by him or another theologian, and a relevant Scripture passage. It is short and manageable. Much of the writing is from Bonhoeffer’s time in prison before his execution. Bonhoeffer wrote to a friend, “Life in a prison cell may well be compared to Advent. One waits, hopes, does this or that, or the other—things that are of really no consequence—the door is shut, and can only be opened from the outside.” (p.X, Editor’s Preface) I like to look back at the thoughts accumulating each day. It feels like a spiritual This is the House That Jack Built—the Mother Goose rhyme where something new is added with each repetition of the rhyme.
The second calendar is for intercessions—prayers of concern and gratitude for people in my life. This visual prayer list keeps the names within eyeshot of me and reminds me to pray for them–with or without words.