Advent is my favourite season and I have begun to plan how we will celebrate - mostly with familiar rituals that we have celebrated every year since the children were little. However, it is always a joy to discover new ideas. Over the last few days I have been reading about the tradition of cleaning ones house over Advent. In Scandinavian, Polish and Irish homes it is part of the preparation for Christmas to have a big clear up in readiness for visitors and the hospitality of the season. It mirrors the internal clearing out and spiritual preparation of Advent which is a penitential season - albeit also one of quiet joy and suppressed excitement. The idea reminded me of the Benedictine attitude to work - ora et labora - that work and prayer, contemplation and action are essentially linked. The quiet , repetitive nature of quotidian tasks can aid prayer and meditation.
Our house is in need of a thorough clean right now and as I think ahead to the busy Christmas season it seems like a good idea to use this time of preparation to do a few timely domestics. Cleaning out cupboards in the kitchen, the fridge, the freezer and stocking up on baking essentials ready for Advent baking are some of the jobs I'm tackling. It feels good when the job is done and I can practice the presence of God in an act of service to those who will visit our home!