A Summertime Advent
Mindful of Christ’s Presence in the Right Here, Right Now
I begin this reflection the week before Advent sitting on my patio enjoying a beautiful spring morning in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As Advent approaches, I am reminded how my Southern Hemisphere experience of Advent differs from the Northern Hemisphere context of winter. Many Advent reflections and themes relate Advent to the arrival of the cold and darkness that comes with winter, as well as barren trees and dying gardens. Down south we are experiencing just the opposite, as we begin to experience warmer temperatures and look forward to all that summertime has to offer. The trees are now full of green foliage and the flowers of spring are in bloom. New life is in the air.
As I think about coming home and uncovering my roots in the Advent story this year, my attention is drawn to Christ’s active presence in the here and now. In addition to celebrating Jesus’ first coming and waiting in hopeful expectation for His second coming, my desire is to remain rooted in and mindful of Christ’s presence in the midst of my life and community Buenos Aires. This includes an Advent posture that parallels the season of new life and anticipation that comes with the arrival of summer. In her book, Through the Advent Door, Jan L. Richardson says, “Perhaps the preparation and expectation to which Advent calls us are not to be found solely in the spaces we set aside during the season. Although it’s important to keep working at finding those contemplative openings in these days, perhaps Advent is what happens in the midst of all this. We enter the heart of the season, the invitation of these weeks, amid the life that is unfolding around us, with it’s wildness and wonder and upheaval and intensity.”
This year of 2013 has been my year of mindfulness. My desire is to grow and cultivate a deeper posture and ability to be present in the moment and attentive to all that is in front of me. My tendency is to spend too much time and energy either evaluating the past or worrying about the future. During Advent I hope to continue in this posture of mindfulness and attentiveness to God’s Advent coming and presence in the now. “A long loving look at the real” is how Walter J. Burghardt defines contemplation. This gets to the heart of my understanding of contemplation, mindfulness and being present in the moment. For me this means being not only mindful of Jesus’ real presence in my own life, but also attentive to Christ’s divine presence in the lives of those I share life with and encounter day-to-day this Advent season.
Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries sums all this up well, “The trick is to live in the forever. And you do that by staying absolutely anchored in the present moment with the person sitting in front of you. The Christ in me recognizing the Christ in you, that’s every day, that’s every second. So you can lament what happened yesterday or you can fret about what will happen tomorrow, but this is the only moment that we have. And if you can delight in that moment and stay anchored in the duty to delight, then it works. Then kinship happens, then your listening, then you’re receiving somebody, then you’re connecting to somebody.”
As I now close this Advent reflection this first Sunday of Advent, I am savoring a fun summer Saturday shared with friends and my community of faith in Buenos Aires. We spent the day outside playing on the grass and in the pool, sharing a meal around the outdoor table and enjoying sweet moments together. I can’t think of a better way to kick-off my summer Advent season! Whether we find ourselves in summer or winter this Advent, may we cultivate and discover opportunities for being mindful and anchored in the present moment, recognizing Jesus’ presence in the midst of our daily lives and those we share it with in the right here, right now.
i. Jan L. Richardson, Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas. (Orlando, FL: Wanton Gospeller Press, 2011).
ii. Walter J. Burghardt, “Contemplation: A long loving look at the real,” Church Winter 1989: 14-18.
iii. Father Greg Boyle, “The Risen Christ Reality.” Online film clip, The Work of the People
David Bayne serves among vulnerable children and youth in Buenos Aires, Argentina with Word Made Flesh (http://www.wordmadeflesh.org/). In addition to his local responsibilities, David also coordinates and facilitates formation for WMF communities around the world.
Someday he would love to write and compile a book of liturgical year reflections and prayers from a Southern Hemisphere experience. You can find David on his blog (http://wheresdavebayne.blogspot.com/) or on Twitter (https://twitter.com/davebayne).