The struggle of Advent

Maria Niechwiadowicz


December has brought a full schedule for the teachers at Ningxia Teacher’s University. It is that point in the semester when I am beginning to fall behind on grading, my days are packed, my nights are getting longer and my sleep shorter, and my first winter cold is setting in. Oh and by the way, Christmas is coming! It is a little surreal to think that in the USA my brothers and NWU friends are taking final exams and preparing to head home for the holidays. I feel like the semester should be winding down here too, but the semester won’t end until the middle of January here.

I am trying to make it feel like the season of Advent here in Guyuan. All throughout college, I was always frustrated that Advent came during heat of final exams and by the time I got home for the holidays, it was a rush to wrap gifts and bake cookies before Christmas Eve. I felt like I could never truly enjoy the season of preparing for the coming of our Lord. This year I do not have exams to take, but I have lessons to give (as usual), cookies to bake (being a foreigner brings lots of responsibility for the Christmas season…planning of Christmas parties, sharing of holiday cookies, etc), and rehearsals to direct (which I will explain more later)! My days are just as busy as they were in college and I am once again finding myself in the “Advent struggle.” That is, struggling to find time to sit down, to breathe in the presence of our Lord and meditate on his Word.

I have created a makeshift Advent wreath on my coffee table in my living room. In the glow of candlelight and twinkle lights from the christmas tree I have been able to find peace each night before heading to bed. I would like to share some words that are keeping me steadfast during this busy time….

Calm me, O Lord, as You stilled the storm.
Still me, O Lord, keep me from harm.
Let all the tumult within me cease.
Enfold me, Lord, in Your peace.
Father, bless the work that is done,
and the work that is to be.
Father, bless the servant that I am,
and the servant that I will be.
The peace of God
be over me to shelter me,
under me to uphold me,
about me to protect me,
behind me to direct me,
ever with me to save me.
The peace of all peace
be mine this night
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
-Northumbria Community Meditation

I encourage you to join me in prayer and contemplation during this second week of Advent. I encourage you to take 10 minutes out of your day to sit in silence.

I am sending my prayers to all you students out there, all you adults who are stressing over holiday preparations, and everyone in between :)