I love hanging out with poets, because you never know when they’re going to blurt out something wonderfully interesting and profound.

I met a poet the other day who did just that. The conversation was something about the holiday season, and how things get so crazy at this time of year. I had mentioned that it’s really contrary to the natural cycles (here in the Northern hemisphere at least), because in these darkest days of winter all a body wants to do is hunker down and sleep.

And she said, “yes, did you know that’s the origin of the Advent wreath? After the hard work of the harvest was over, they’d take the wheels off the wagons and bring them in for the winter. And they’d decorate them with evergreen branches.”

(I learned later that the wheels were often hung horizontally above head height from the ceiling, which reminded some people of a circular window into Heaven.)

My poet friend continued: “It’s such beautiful symbolism because it spoke of the rolling wheels of work and activity coming to a halt, and putting them away and coming inside to be still for a while, with the promise of new life to follow.

Those of us who grew up influenced by Christianity know it as the season of Advent, but it doesn’t matter what spiritual tradition you follow (or none at all):

As the wheel of the year slows to a close it’s Nature’s cue for us to rest and regenerate, and seek the sacred heart of stillness within—for that is where everything, ultimately, both ends and begins.

Holiday time can be fun, but many people find it exhausting and stressful, too. This year, why not approach it just a little more mindfully?

It’s OK to let slide the parts that don’t really serve you. (Which for some of us could be almost all of it.)

And it’s OK to slip away from the hubbub, shut down your phone, ignore your email, and even forget about Facebook for a while—and enjoy the peaceful, nurturing darkness within.

The world can wait. And how much brighter it will be when you return.