Stop. Look. Listen.

When my husband and I were first married, he seemed to have a song for everything. If he was plodding through a monotonous task I would hear him singing under his breath, “Have patience. Have patience. Don’t be in such a hurry.” His childhood was full of such practical ditties.

I, on the other hand, grew up listening to Fred Penner folk songs and Burl Ives singing about Mr. Froggie’s courtin’. The soundtrack of my childhood was not quite so, shall we say, “utilitarian.” Although, come to think of it, Sharon, Lois, and Bram did teach me how to make a mean peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Yesterday I was crossing traffic in a busy grocery store parking lot with my children when one of my husband’s jingles came to mind. “Stop, look, and listen before you cross the street. Use your eyes. Use your ears, before you use your feet.” And you can probably guess that for the rest of the day it was lodged in my brain to play itself like a broken record. Somewhere along highway 207 heading home, my thoughts of safely crossing the street mingled with thoughts of Advent. And I realized the two go together quite nicely. I would do well to stop, look, and listen before my frisky feet join the frenzied dance of the holiday hustle.

So, that’s what I’m going to do each week of Advent, and I hope you’ll join me. We will STOP to consider a word from scripture, LOOK at a piece of artwork, and LISTEN to a seasonal song. As we pause with beautiful language, beautiful pictures, and beautiful music, perhaps we will notice more beauty around us. Art, in all its forms, has a peculiar way of setting our eyes at new angles to catch a glimpse of what we couldn’t see otherwise. As George MacDonald’s character Ralph Rinkelmann says, in the short story entitled The Shadows, “instead of making common things look commonplace” art has a way of making “common things disclose the wonderful that is in them.”

There is certainly no shortage of things to feast our eyes and ears on this time of year. But it is my prayer that this artistic pause will sate our overstimulated senses in a deeper, more lasting way and pivot our hurried spirits toward patience and peace this Advent. If George (and Ralph) are right, perhaps art will help us recapture the wonder we all long for at Christmastime. If you know someone who might appreciate a time out with timeless beauty, please share this post with them!

Signing off with a thrill of hope,

Click the links below to see posts in this series.

WEEK 1 — Stop.Look.Listen…for the Lamb of God

WEEK 2 — Stop.Look.Listen…for the Love that Restores

WEEK 3 — Stop.Look.Listen…for the Light of the World

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