Take Time to Look Up This Christmas

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Does Christmas make you feel claustrophobic?

There are too many things in every corner of the house, too many events on the calendar, too many expectations to meet, too many things on my to-do list. Both my pants and my budget are too tight. It doesn’t help that yesterday while I was in Wal-Mart, the intercom kept announcing that it’s “almost Christmas morning”.  It’s  Just.  Too.  Much.

I lament these things every year and wonder how I can focus on a deeper meaning during Christmas. Remembering God’s gift of Jesus is something that is important to me every day.  So why do I need to follow all of these cultural “norms” to celebrate Him? Could they be a big distraction so that we don’t actually have to contemplate why we are here or Who put us here?

But then I go outside.

Outside it’s different. Outside I see the rich green of the trees and grass, the fresh blue and white of the sky and clouds.  At night the stars sparkle against the deep black of the night sky.  These things are timeless, unchanged in the millennia. The vast sky helps me to remember that my worries are small and inconsequential. They are temporary, but the creator of the heavens and earth is eternal.

Science has proven over and over that exposure to the outdoor natural world calms us.  It has immediate and profound effects on our attention, stress levels, and moods.

There is just something about being surrounded by nature – whether trees, grass, or water during the day or the stars in the sky at night – that instantly gives me pause and calms my mind.   The lists and fog clear. I can truly be PRESENT.  Not the kind that needs wrapping, but the state of mind.  I can be more grateful for the sacrifice that God made on my behalf.

The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Psalm 19:1.

When God sent His son to this earth, Jesus looked upon the same sun, stars, and moon that we see.

Emmanuel. God with us.

That helps me to feel more connected to Him.

This year during advent I am planning to spend at least just a couple of minutes each night looking up at the sky and being in awe.  I’m going to simply step outside just to drink in the peace and calm that nature provides.  Won’t you join me?  It’s hard for us to take the time. We could wrap one more gift or clear that counter again. But in that same two minutes we could step out and drink in the glory of God. That’s the gift I want this Christmas.

Do you feel more connected to God when in nature?  Leave a comment and let me know!