Today I found myself completely distracted by my little robot vacuum. (We call him “Eufy.”) While I should have been helping the kids with their homeschooling, I found myself increasingly frustrated by his sense of aimlessness. 

All I wanted was for Eufy to clean the kitchen. With four teenagers in the house all day, that room gets messy fast. 

However, I watched, in annoyance, as he meandered through the kitchen. He passed chip pieces and cake crumbs. He avoided every corner and would stop just when I thought that he was actually going to pick something up. He turned in circles, he pivoted, he weaved. He focused most of his effort on a small hall leading away from the kitchen. It seemed as if he vacuumed everything but the areas that I needed him to vacuum! Eufy’s path made absolutely no sense and in the end, he returned himself to his base pronouncing a job well done with his little beep. 

As I watched that robot vacuum slowly and aimlessly circle the kitchen, missing every crumb and piece of trash, I realized that I feel just like that little Eufy robot vacuum right now. I have simple tasks that I can’t get done. I spin around in circles with no discernible pattern. I am not accomplishing much and have no desire to do so. At the end of the day, I return to my base exhausted, depleted, and not having done very many of my tasks.

Honestly, I wonder if we are all like that robot vacuum right now. We are almost eleven months into this year and our lives are anything but ordinary. We have known people who have died or who have lost a loved one. We know people who have lost their jobs or homes. Our kids are in online school, or we are homeschooling for the first time ever. Even if our children are at their school, they complain that it feels weird and sad. Our churches are online or outside and if they are inside, we have to socially distance from those around us and we certainly can’t shake hands or hug. We are tired, so very tired.

So, what can we do? How can we reach beyond the stress and the chaos, the anger, and the despair? How can we establish something “other” in our lives, something higher, something holy? How can we find meaning even in the chaos of these days?

For me, the season of Advent, with its celebrations and traditions, offers the perfect way to reorient our lives around the thing of God.

(To learn more about Advent, read Ashley’s book, A Thrill of Hope: Celebrating Advent at Home. Now with more devotions and recipes for 2020!)

Advent captures the cry of our hearts, now more than ever, during this crazy and disorienting year. Advent is all about waiting and longing for God to come among us to redeem us and to set the world right again. Advent is a time of preparation, waiting and longing for the fulfillment of God’s purposes. 

We need to be able to reorient ourselves. We need to remind ourselves every day, individually and as a family of who God is and how He feels about us. To remember that He will never leave us nor forsake us, that He has defeated death and conquered hell, and that one day, He will wipe every tear from our eye. Advent is the perfect time to start.

With the celebration and traditions of Advent, we can create a sacred space in our home. We can light candles, bake, collect alms for the needy, listen to sacred songs, and more importantly, we can set aside time to read God’s Word and to pray.

If you’re feeling as disoriented by this year as I am, I invite you to join me and my family as we walk through my book, A Thrill of Hope: Celebrating Advent in the Home (Revised and Expanded for 2020). It contains recipes, traditional celebrations, family devotions, and many other special ways to make the season of Advent a holy time for you and your family!

(For more Anglican Compass Advent resources, check out our Rookie Anglican Guide to Advent!)