In the shops last week, the same old feelings began to stir: child-like Christmas excitement mixed with - and here's the irony about 'advent' - a sense of inadequacy that arises only at this time of year. I'd popped out to get a few gift ideas, but immediately felt paralysed by choice and pressured by price. And what I returned with was the idea that I can't provide the magic and sparkle for my family.
So I was grateful for the line that popped into my head from the poet Wendell Berry: "What we need is here."
Berry is someone who helps us to see what was already ours from the beginning. It's a contemplative discipline - to see, and be glad - which hopefully helps us to resist the pressure of consumer temptation and (more positively) to demonstrate an appreciative advent alternative. A spark of light!
"We pray," he writes, "not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here."
"When you let go of trying to get more of what you don't really need," writes Lynne Twist in her book The Soul of Money, "it frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have. [And] when you make a difference with what you have," she says, "it expands."
In a way, then, we need nothing more... than to realise what we have. Which includes Immanuel, God with us, here. Enough, already. More than enough.
Brian Draper is a writer and speaker.