Nesting and the season of Advent
CHRISTINE HALLORAN (Volunteer Pastoral Assistant at Gardiner Street Parish in Dublin) :: While pregnant with my daughter in 1997, I noticed that in the final weeks leading up to her birth, I began to clean my house (in particular the bathroom!) with a renewed sense of urgency. I became a little obsessed with an intense urge to prepare for the upcoming arrival. Besides an increased vigor around my daily housework, I packed my hospital bag, bought soft fluffy blankets, organized my kitchen presses, and decluttered drawers and wardrobes.
I cleaned the fridge, stocked the freezer, and disposed of all foodstuffs past their sell by date. I also had my husband assemble the crib, paint the box room, and install the baby seat in the car! It really was “all systems go”. What I later discovered was that this frenzied burst of energy and activity during pregnancy actually has a name; it is called “Nesting” and it is defined as “the overwhelming desire to get your home ready for your new baby”.
In the weeks before Christmas, as Christians we also engage in a time of preparation, a “nesting” time so to speak, the Season of Advent. The word “Advent” stems from the Latin word adventus, which literally means “coming” or “arrival.” So, in context, Advent refers to the coming or the birth of baby Jesus on Christmas day.
But St. Jerome also used the word adventus in relation to Jesus’ second coming or Parousia at the end of time. In effect then, during Advent we are not only preparing for the celebration of Christmas and Jesus’ birth in the stable in Bethlehem long long ago, but we are acknowledging to ourselves that Jesus could come again at any time and so we prepare our own hearts to be ready to receive him when he does.
So, over the coming weeks of Advent why not engage in some spiritual “nesting” activities yourself in preparation for the Parousia. Do you need to declutter, maybe rid yourself of old negative behaviour patterns that are not serving you anymore? Would you like to cleanse and purify the “manger” that is your heart through the sacrament of reconciliation?
Perhaps you need to invest in new spiritual practices like a renewed approach to prayer, more time for reflection or contemplation, practices that will help in deepening your relationship with Jesus? Could engagement with scripture be vital and nourishing food for your Spirit?
Advent is a time to take stock and feather your heart for Jesus’ arrival. Slow down, be still, and allow yourself to be open to a happy anticipation of the Graces and Blessings that the Christ Jesus may deliver to you this Advent and Christmas.