Come: An Advent Yoga Series

“Yesterday was the 17th.” There’s a stunned discouragement in my voice. “I missed it.”

“Missed what?” Bryan asks.

“The start of the O Antiphons. I didn’t post the first yoga video. I missed it.” Tears begin to fall now as the discouragement sinks into my bones. I sit at the kitchen table and the hectic pace of the past few weeks, and especially the past few days crashes in upon me. “I’m failing. I can’t keep up. I had all these ideas for Christmas this year and, and, I can’t do it.” I choke back a quick sob. “This season is totally kicking my ass.”

“You can just post date yesterdays post.” Bryan says always the calm one. “Have you already written it?”

“No. Well, yes, but it needs editing. And it’s not just yesterdays post, I had planned a pre-post to get people excited about the idea, I had planned to hype it a little. And it’s not just this. I still have people I haven’t bought any Christmas presents for, I still have stocking stuffers to get, I forgot to donate towards the teacher gift at school, the house is a mess, I haven’t been able to see the kitchen counters all week, I still have to finish grocery shopping before everyone gets here, I’m over budget and under accomplished and it’s, it’s just everything.” My words rush out as I try to keep from completely breaking down.

I feel my failure heavy this year. I want it to be perfect. I want to make up for the fact that we didn’t really have Christmas last year, we were separated from our kids and stuck in a hospital room. I want to give the perfect gifts that will light up people’s faces with joy. I want to create memories and moments all together as a family and as an extended family. I want to give Bryan and the kids the world because they mean the world to me and I don’t know what next year will look like. I really don’t. But, in trying to do it all, I’ve missed giving them the most important thing…myself.

I’ve snapped at Bryan and the kids more this week then I have in a long time. I’ve skipped meals which has resulted in more snapping. I’ve run from one store to the next in between therapy appointments and doctor appointments, in between school drop offs and pick ups, in between making homemade gifts and going to holiday parties. And in the midst the kids have gotten sick, and I have felt run down, and still I haven’t stopped.

I wanted to do it all. But, I’m failing. I’m dropping balls. And most importantly I’m failing my family.

I have often heard the sentiment about not getting sucked into the busyness of the holidays, but this is the first year that I’ve really felt it. I feel it now with my whole being. In past years I didn’t feel this kind of pressure. Maybe it has a little to do with my kids being older, with living by family again, with having both sides of our family here together this year. And maybe it has something to do with my own heart. Whatever the reason, I have definitely been sucked into the craziness of this season and I don’t want to do it anymore.

I had all these plans to tell you about the O Antipohns and share each day about each one. I had made yoga videos to go with each days O Antiphon from the 17th through the 23rd. I still want to share them with you. But I want to share them a little differently, because, as I sat at my kitchen table and all the failing sunk down upon me, I realize that what I need most of all isn’t to finish the 15 things on my to-do list, it isn’t to have the perfect gift for each person I know, and it isn’t even to create magical moments and memories for my children, the thing I need most of all is for Jesus to come.

I need a messiah to come into my mess, into my hurt, into my failing. And that’s exactly what the O Antiphons are about.

The O Antiphons are prayers, that were often sung or chanted during vespers (evening prayers) December 17th through December 23rd. They each talk about a name or attribute of Christ drawn from the prophecies of Isaiah. Each of these prayers starts with one of these names and then calls forth the coming of Christ.

They are used in the Catholic church as a way to prepare our hearts for Christmas. To remind ourselves of who God is, who we are, and how desperately we need a messiah.

These are old prayers. There are reverences to them as early as the fifth century and by the eight century they are common liturgical practice. I love that about them. I love that people have been praying these prayers for century after century. Hundreds of years. When I pray them I feel as if I am joining a choir of those who have called out for Emmanuel to come for longer than I can even imagine.

Because these prayer were originally in Latin there are a variety of different translations, but the essence stays the same. The essence of calling upon God, by all his many names, to come.

During this last week of Advent I don’t want to run around like a chicken with it's head cut off. I want to remind myself of who God is, who I am, and how desperately I need the Spirit of Grace.

So, today I’m going to post yesterday’s video and a little later today I'll post today’s video. And the rest of the week I’m going to give myself a lot of grace to just post the videos without a lot of introduction or farther information.

These yoga routines are made up of a small handful of poses done over and over again while repeating the O Antiphon for that day. Most of them are about 10 minutes long. If you have time you can start with some sun salutations, do the video once or even twice, do a little cool down and savasana and have a longer daily yoga practice. If you don’t have time, would you still consider giving me 10 minutes os your time and doing just the video with me? I know even in my busyness I need this. I need 10 minutes set aside to pray “come” over and over again.

I hope these short videos will help you (and me!) to handle the busyness of the season with a gaze that is firmly fixed on the expectation of Christ’s coming. I hope that they are useful in preparing your body for the food and the stress of the holidays. But, even more than that, I hope that they are helpful in preparing your hearts to celebrate God Emmanuel’s coming.

December 17th - O WISDOM