mind·ful·ness ˈmīn(d)f(ə)lnəs/ noun
1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
“their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”
2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
The word mindfulness is everywhere these days. I’m quite enjoying it, actually. I need to learn to be fully present in my body and to others. It is one of my greatest spiritual formation challenges: To stay in the moment; to be here, now – with myself, with you, and with God.
The Christmas season is not an easy time to be mindful. We are dashing to stores, decorating the house, baking, worrying about finances. It does not lend itself to mindfulness. That’s why I’m learning to enjoy advent. In my faith tradition, there is no celebration of Advent, so I’m a newbie and I love it. It helps us slow down and anticipate the birth of Christ before all the crazy relatives swoop in and steal our peace.
This year I’m thrilled to have in my possession, hot off the presses, a new advent guide by a dear friend, Deana Rogers, it’s called Wrapped in Grace: The birth story that changes everything. It is a beautifully illustrated slim addition that I’m going to savor long after Christmas.
When I was reading this book today I and came across the word, “Mindfulness.” It was in the story where Mary (Jesus’ mom, freshly pregnant with him) goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth (very old, not supposed to have kids, pregnant with John the Baptist). Mary launches into a song, which the author explains is very similar to other songs women have sung throughout the Bible. In it Mary says:
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.”
In this (New International Version) chapter of Luke, God is said to be “mindful of Mary.” God, the power of the universe, the one who holds it altogether, is fully present with Mary. He knows her circumstances (an unwed teenager, carrying a baby that does not belong to her fiancé). He also knows her heart.
If God was mindful of Mary, and chose to use her to carry (literally) out his will, it occurred to me that God is also mindful of us. He knows our circumstances, however messed up they may be. He knows our hearts. He is not concerned that we are too young, like Mary, or too old, like Elizabeth. He can and will use us to carry out his good plans on earth.
What was Mary’s end of the deal? To say yes. Yes, yes, yes.
This advent season, I want to be fully present to myself (what God is doing within me). I want to be fully present to others (what God is doing in the world); and I want to be fully present to God (to help carry out his plans). That is what I’m pressing into this Advent Season.
In what ways are you being mindful this Christmas?