Monday, December 17, 2012

Advent Reflections, Part 2: Sacred Silence

 Can I be real with you today? It's incredibly exciting to go dress shopping, show everyone your ring, and enjoy parties thrown just for you, but when the fun stuff isn't going on and it's just you and your fiancĂ©, engagement can also be a time of penny-pinching, trials with chastity, an overwhelming sense of needing to accomplish thousands of things, and for some couples, dating long distance.


A few weeks ago, I received a question asking how to deal with the stresses of engagement, and I've been thinking this Advent season is a perfect time to give it some thought.

The world is a noisy place, isn't it?  Between social media, texting, and just going about our everyday routines, I feel like there are so many pulls on our attention.  All of it can distract me while I'm having a conversation, working, or exercising, and lately, I've become more aware of the fact that I fill most silences with sound.  It's such an easy habit for me.

I constantly catch myself missing opportunities to retreat from the noise.  Something as simple as a walk during lunch, for instance, usually turns into a quick phone call to say hi to my husband or one of my friends, just because I have a few minutes.  Most days when I drive to work, I play my iPod for the duration of my 45-minute commute, but when I'm in the car with Andrew, he prefers to leave the radio off so we can talk or pray the Rosary.  Sometimes it makes me impatient, but I'm seeing more and more how right he is--ditching the noise almost always leads to some of our best conversations, and it's teaching me to be more present.

The thing is, this month, this holy season, is all about quiet; about silence.  It's in silence that the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary in her room in Nazareth, in silence that Jesus grows in her womb, and in silence that our salvation is so humbly born, alone with his parents in a dirty old barn.  Seeking out the quiet, I think, can be such a key to easing the stress of wedding planning and long-distance engagement.  So here, literally and otherwise, are a few ways to just tune out the noise together and enter in:

  • I love the sense of peace I get every time I leave Adoration.  Do you ever get the feeling I do, that the first time you speak or see someone after being alone and quiet with the Lord is a big departure from how you were in prayer?  Whether my time before Him was spent joyfully, tearfully, or even indifferently, I always leave the chapel feeling like I'm re-entering the world after having spent time in the quiet.  Go with your fiancĂ© for a prayer date, and just soak in the Lord's and one another's presence.
  • Silence your bridal brain for a night: go out to dinner, or make it, and forbid yourself to talk about anything wedding-related.  After a rough day of going crazy with the registry scanner, the lady who helped us at Bed, Bath & Beyond advised us to do just that.  It was exactly what Andrew and I needed to regain a perspective on what wasn't important, wedding-wise, and to remember that we still had plenty of time to plan.
  • Spend an evening unplugged!  Turn off your computers, your phones, and your music and bask in everything else the world has to offer.  Stargazing with blankets and hot cocoa?  A walk around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights?  Dessert and board games by candlelight?  Yes, please.
  • Go for a run, a hike, a bike ride...exercise is such a good way to burn off your stress, and gives you the option of either talking or just reflecting, enjoying being present with each other.
  • Write to each other.  Putting pen to paper in your best handwriting is an exercise in concentration itself, and background music or lit-up screens don't make it any easier.  To me, there's hardly anything more special than a handwritten note, where your beloved's heart doesn't come with a backspace key.
What about you?  I'd love to hear your ideas for maintaining your peace, seeking silence, and beating your stress!

P.S.  Head over to Ignitum Today to read my newest column!

4 comments:

  1. Stephanie, this post is beautiful and I'm actually a little teary-eyed, reflecting on everything going on lately. Probably a wake up call from the Lord that I need to get into the chapel more. =] Thanks so much. Your blog if quickly becoming a favorite, for sure!

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    1. Mary, I can't even express how much that means to me. Thank you! Be completely, totally assured of my continued prayers for you and your fiance =)

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  2. I needed this 4 years ago. Our engagement was ridiculously stressful!

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    1. Ha, I wish I could've given myself this advice during my engagement, too! It's so much easier to look outside of yourself than in, isn't it?!

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