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When I was in college, my physical education teacher talked a lot about the importance of getting enough sleep to be healthy. He gave a lot of tips about how to reset the body’s internal clock, and natural ways to promote restorative sleep. As a college student, I never had a hard time sleeping. I was usually so over-tired from staying up late studying that when it was time to sleep, I crashed. But, now that I’m older and have a couple of kids, I have found myself dealing with bouts of insomnia. I’ve tried all of the tips and tricks I learned from my college professor about sleep health, and none of it has worked.
The only success I have had in fighting off insomnia has come from something my health teacher taught me in middle school. He said he learned to shut off the thoughts and anxieties of each day by slowly allowing his body to fall asleep. Basically, he’d tell himself, “Now my toes are falling asleep.” A few moments later: “Now my feet are falling asleep,”  and so on. Even though it sounds like mumbo-jumbo, it has worked for me. Slowly allowing myself to fall asleep has been an exercise in detoxing from the stress of daily life. Each step of the process of falling asleep is like switching off a switch for the night.
I wonder what would happen if we could all find a way to shut off the busyness and craziness of our lives during the days leading up to Christmas.
When the stress of trying to keep up with the demands and expectations we face (rather real or imagined) becomes unbearable, we reach up and shut them off.
When the bright lights and shiny paper cover over the light leading the way to the manger, we reach up and shut them off.
When our attitudes become biting and our bitterness flows freely, we reach up and shut them off.
Feelings of inadequacy, despair, and frustration could be switched off with a simple flick of a finger.
Concerns about finding the money to keep up with the gifts we receive from others – switched off.
And, the amazing thing is that as we switch off all of these distractions, misplaced attention, destructive emotions, and misdirected concerns, we will find something else shining brightly in its place.
The anticipation of the coming Christ child.
The star to light the way to the humble manger that would be overlooked by most of the world.
The baby, the Word made flesh, the Savior of the world in the earthy, human body of a helpless child.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. -John 1:1-5

Reach up and shut off all the distractions, all the crowds, competition, and chaos. And peer into the darkness of the night. There is a light shining this Advent. Can you see it?