Preparation

So, I’m just going to jump right in and start: I’ve been musing about “preparation” recently. Physical preparation for things, mental preparation and yes, even spiritual preparation. There’s been a lot of talk about it during the pandemic: preparing for the “next wave”, vaccine distribution and simply being prepared for lockdowns, curfews and staying at home. Could we have been “better prepared”? What does that look like?

To help clarify, I looked up the definition (via Google):

PREPARATION: noun

  • the action or process of making ready or being made ready for use or consideration.
  • something done to get ready for an event or undertaking (plural noun: preparations)
  • a substance that is specially made up and usually sold, especially a medicine or food.

Basically, it’s getting ready. Of course, all of us do this is some way, shape or form. We dress and wash and go off to work. We prepare meals and write speeches and plan events. There are varying degrees to this “getting ready”, and some of us are better at it than others. In fact, some of us are borderline OCD in our colour coded, labelled and listed worlds of organization… all in the name of being “prepared”. It gives us a sense of control. We are “ready” for the beginning of an event and have ticked all the boxes in order to be in that state.

Others are a little more lacking in this realm of the cohesive flow chart. Some seek the adventure of the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants way of taking on tasks: wing it and see what happens. They make little consideration for the future and tend to like it that way. In the Mitton house, we have both highly dramatic prepare-ers and those who are highly prepared for the drama of the unknown. Me? I’m somewhere in the middle… I like the control, but some days I lack the effort needed to even think about preparing for the next event. Especially as I get older. Maybe there is less of a future to think about as you age. Perhaps different stages of life require different obligations. Young moms need to be a little more prepared than those of us who have young adults who should know how to take care of themselves by now (Notice I said “should” — ahem).

Crockpots, meal prep and personal hygiene aside, I’ve also been broadening my thoughts to something known as “preparation day”. The gospels refer to this day as the day before the Sabbath… a day to do all the work necessary to truly rest on Shabbat (Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:31). Those who follow the Church of the Latter Day Saints have adopted this ancient Jewish practice as well, apparently, and prepare the day before their Sabbath. The danger of such practices, however, is when one doesn’t follow through. What happens if you don’t prepare? Are you shunned? Do you judge and become legalistic? I love the idea of setting aside a day for rest and reflection. And I love the idea of doing all the prep work ahead of time in order to be given that luxury of a full day of quiet. But is that what it is all about? Is it okay to “work” on a church day? What does “work” mean? Is one person’s work another person’s pleasure? What if God wired you as a “do-er” and that fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants creature who just doesn’t prepare? Does it make you less spiritual?

I am old enough to remember when stores were closed on Sundays and church happened morning, noon, and night. There were big Sunday dinners (I’m sure those moms worked hard!) and guests to serve. Were the good old days better? Or do the conveniences of modern day allow us to serve our fellow humans better now? At the beginning of lockdown, people marveled at the gift of time… we baked bread, we tidied and organized and spent quality time. Did it make us more spiritual? More worshipful or connected? I’m not so sure. When we are forced into spiritual reflection we do it, but I’m not sure it’s a sustainable method for growth. On the other hand, maybe it’s a good discipline to set aside a day of preparation in order to celebrate a day of rest.

I guess the jury is still out on this one. I’ll still be thinking about it. I was thinking about it when I pulled out the crockpot this morning in preparation for tonight’s dinner. Ten bonus points for me, right?!

Blessings, friends!

Be Prepared!

As I write that title, renditions of the enemy Scar’s battle cry from Disney’s Lion King rings in my head, but it is not really where I want this post to go. I first started thinking about this topic when I was out the other day, walking the puppy, when I came upon two fully blooming dandelion flowers. Now, one must remember it is the middle of a Canadian November… and dandelions arrive in the spring! Not to mention it shouldn’t be warm enough for the yellow weeds to be flourishing in the sidewalk cracks of my neighbour’s yard. But there they were in all their yellow glory! So, it had me musing about how God gave these little guys such resistant powers. Born to be survivors. A reminder to me of how we are to be used at just the right time… even if it doesn’t seem like the right time!

Those thoughts grew and morphed as I began to think about “preparedness”. I’d like to think I am prepared for things… I pack lunches the night before, make lists, set dates in the calendar, trip planning (remember that?!). Truth is, I am terrible at packing. I either bring everything… or try and survive on one pair of shoes. I find packing hard… I can book appointments though. So maybe it all balances out in the end. Preparing is like that, maybe. Perhaps we all pool our strengths together and “prepare” together. Yeah, work together, that’s it…

Christmas will be here soon. I know some of you are gung ho for the holidays and have the tree and lights up already and have been playing caroles since November first. We wait a little longer here at the Mitton house before pulling out the ornament boxes. Nonetheless, my thoughts are going forward as I wonder what 2020 Christmas will look like. The pandemic has forced us to stall preparations for concerts, potlucks and any sort of gatherings. Will we all be baking more and indulging in our own freezer filled collection of goodies because we have no one to share it with? Or will we prepare less, knowing Christmas may be a little quieter this year? Will gifts require more thought and preparation because we have to order them online versus braving the malls? Will we ever remember to make sure we have masks on and in the car? (How many times have you had to run back ? Come on, Be honest.)

I follow a few families on Instagram who still practice “preparation day” where they prepare for a day of rest and Sabbath the day before. Meals are cooked, chores done and clothes are laid out. It’s probably a good discipline, and I am not often as mindful of God’s day of rest as I should be. All too often my days all blend together and very little gets “set aside” for God and God alone. There always seems something more to do, or more to catch up on. But we have been called to be a light, to show the way, and to be prepared for His coming again:

76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;

77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,

78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,

79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Luke 1:76-79 KJV

So, as Scar sings about “the death of the King”, we should be looking forward to the “birth of the King” as we go into the holiday season, and the “coming of the King” as that day draws ever so near!! Perhaps it will look a little different this year… out of the ordinary. Yet, maybe those little November dandelions will inspire us all to bloom in the midst of challenges, to be strong when the cold winds blow… and to be prepared for whatever 2020 throws at us!