I haven’t gotten enough menu selecting and Black Friday shopping planning done yet to even think past Thanksgiving, but I was reminded this weekend that Advent is only a week away. I’m not prepared to start preparing my heart, home, or to-do lists for Christmas!
Students, faculty, and staff are already preparing for the whirwind of the end of the semester before the holiday break. End of semester projects and tests are crammed around and between Thanksgiving break and “reading days,” days of cancelled class to give time for studying in preparation for final exam week. (This was an opportunity of which I took fullest advantage as a student—whether that advantage was lent to my coursework, however, is a different matter.) Then the possibly quite frantic pace of exams, study groups, packing for home, and end-of-semester or Christmas events hosted by student organizations continue the constant movement of rising to-do lists and commitments to fit in the last days of the semester. Some of our students will also be making last minute preparations for studying abroad in the spring, winter term courses at other universities to get ahead in their degree plans, or walking across the stage in December Commencement, beginning an entirely new chapter with new beginnings after they leave campus.
Personally, while I was a student I always found the last weeks of November and the “finals season” of December to be entirely about preparation, about pushing through the sprint just long enough to finish papers and tests, pack for home (or move), and make it onto a plane bound for Denver, Colorado, my parents, and freedom from text books and alarm clocks. I’ve always tried to “just get through” finals and December until I could make it to Christmas and home.
The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, this year, is inviting students, faculty, staff, and all members of the TCU community to a different, interior preparation for this period of the school year, as well as to a deeper presence here. As Advent begins next week, students’ and staff members’ reflections on Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in this season will be shared with our community.* We can learn from each other, gaining insight into the significance of Christmas in our lives today and increased mindfulness of living with Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love individually and collectively. December 15th will bring the annual Carols by Candlelight university-wide worship service and fellowship for the community. And cookies and hot chocoate. (We aim to nourish both body and soul.)
New traditions starting this year include a prayer station for making ornaments. Students and staff will be invited to write their prayers on strips of paper curled and slipped into glass orb ornaments. Whether these encased prayers adorn trees, garlands, or dorm rooms, they will shine a light of intention, love, and hope.
Advent is by design a time for preparing, and the end of the semester enrapturing. We hope that through these events and opportunities or through their own faith communities, organizations, and families, all Horned Frogs might find encouragement to dwell fully within Advent and these last weeks of the semester rather than looking past them to Christmas and a reprieve from school. Let us plan for tomorrow, but let us not forget the possibilities and beauty that lie in wait in today.
*If you would like to receive Advent Devotionals by email each week, email firstname.lastname@example.org and you will be added to the direct distribution list!
by Zoey Murzyn
TCU Faith & Spirit Social Media
Do you have a story of your student organization or community that you want our campus and greater TCU community to know? Feel free to email email@example.com with ideas!