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This Month, Make Space for Reflection and Anticipation

By Dave Stuart Jr.

It hasn’t been uncommon for me in years past to refrain from blogging in December. I’ve done this for three reasons:

  1. You are insanely busy, and I thought you wouldn’t read what I wrote in December;
  2. I want you to be less busy in December, so I didn’t want to add reading to your plate; and
  3. I want myself to be less busy in December, too.

This month, however, I’m going to keep to my publication schedule (every Tuesday and Saturday) for three corresponding reasons:

  1. I now write not out of some sense that a piece will or will not be read — these are things I can’t control — but instead out of a sense that a piece is worth reading. If I have something to say that I think needs to be written and could potentially meet a need in someone’s life, I’m going to write and publish it because The Work of doing that is valuable in and of itself, regardless of the results;
  2. I hope that my writing helps you become the kind of person who makes decisions — who is picky — about how time is used, and who can therefore make a rational, guiltless decision to either read what I write this month or just auto-archive it or (if you’re a subscriber) unsubscribe because my writing and your season of life aren’t really a match these days; and
  3. Finally, I’ve developed the discipline of keeping blog posts scheduled out at least a month or so, and this helps me produce the same amount of blog posts with a fraction of the stress and this-is-last-minute-and-therefore-not-all-that-fun-ness.

With these things said, I have one recommendation for you today: during this all-too-commonly frenetic month of December, go counter-cultural and make space for reflection. My blog posts for the month will aim to help with that — they’ll be shorter and a bit more reflective — but you’ll also need to put structures in place if that’s going to happen.

How to Make Space for Reflection

Here are some ideas for helping:

  • Stop doing some stuff you normally do, just for the month. For myself, I’m refraining from the news and from YouTube. Well, I’m trying to. It is challenging. But instead of daily clicking over to some news site to read The Latest Thing or watch the latest video of Interesting Stuff Interestingly Presented, I’m trying to consume more timeless things, like…
  • Read a non-professional book that’s centered on something even more ultimate to you than teaching. For me, that means reading Augustine’s City of God and Tim Keller’s King’s Cross. I’ll be reading this differently than most professional reading I do (here’s how I do the professional stuff). Namely, I’ll be reading to be affected. As part of a faith tradition that believes, insanely, in the incarnation, and as a firm believer that the incarnation has vast application to the daily work of teaching, I need to be affected by truths bigger than teaching.
  • Budget 15 minutes of reflective journaling into your days, just for the month. Maybe it’s after lunch, or before school, or after you put the kids to bed — whenever it is, try to build, just for this month, that discipline of daily reflective writing. If I were you, I would aim that reflection on ideas germane to the year that’s now ending and the year that will soon begin.

It may not be possible for you to skip out of all the added obligations that December often brings, but my hope is that one or more of the above can help you better experience this month’s opportunities for reflection.

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2 Responses to This Month, Make Space for Reflection and Anticipation

  1. Amy Kuehl December 6, 2016 at 8:08 pm #

    Dave,
    I’ve been reading your posts for a little less than a year, and have never left a comment. I have, however, purchased a couple of your “tool kits” to aid me in building classroom procedures that center around discussion, so I thank you for that.

    But more importantly, I want to thank you for your determined focus on the heart of teaching, and really, the art of serving. I am thankful for how you share your faith, and I’m thankful for how you weave that aspect of yourself into your instruction. Your emails have been a breath of much-needed fresh air more than once. Merry Christmas, my far-away colleague.

    • davestuartjr January 8, 2017 at 12:56 pm #

      Amy, I found this a great encouragement, and I have it hanging in my office now. Thank you so much 🙂 Happy New Year to you, my colleague 🙂

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