There is usually a special natural ambience at this time of the year.
Have you noticed when dawn breaks there is a lingering softness of light as if the new day is savoring its moment before the sun takes over for day time? I love to awaken at 5 am to simply breathe in the fresh air of the early morning. During this time, the morning light creeps in gently and quietly.
The early birds of dawn sing their various melodies to awaken us to the hope of a new day. Some of these birds have become my esteemed visitors as they usually drop in for breakfast which I share out in my backyard. These are mainly the little brown doves and keskidees who live among the branches of my mango tree.
The sun rises later as it usually does at this time and takes charge.
As a new dawn begins and is welcomed, I am reminded that we begin afresh a new journey of our liturgical year that begins with Advent.
Advent reminds us of the true purpose and focus of life and when life becomes eternal for us.
All around me is the sound of the living. I can hear the sounds of my feathered friends. I can also hear the sounds of my neighbour outdoors tending to her plants. I can hear the voices and laughter of others, the sound of the garbage truck as it moves around the neighbourhood relieving us of all the things we dispose and discard. Across the street I can see that my neighbour has already put out their beautiful decorations of lights and Christmas wreaths. It looks very beautiful.
Indeed, there is a great sense of festivity as part of the Christmas preparations.
In spite of all these activities, Advent should tug at us in a special way. It should lead us to pause and reflect on why we are doing what we are doing. Yes, it is true that for generations we continue to look forward to this special time that ends our calendar year.
But it is Advent that reminds us that we begin a new year, liturgically. True, the sensitivity to this period may not carry as much weight as it does for those of us who do celebrate it, but it is our faith that signifies the relevance of this season.
We celebrate the anticipation and hope that was held by those thousands of years ago – the birth of a child.
All of man’s longings and yearnings were bound up by the promise of this person.
What a difference this birth meant for all of creation. How many had longed to see this birth of a child that would change everything, everywhere and for every person.
Advent also stirs in us the same anticipation of another coming. Today in the light of this pandemic and the global disasters due to climate change…many are predicting an imminent return of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior.
Yet for me, here in lies the beautiful subtlety of this liturgical season. It keeps us focused.
It is our daily, perhaps mundane, ordinary life experiences that reveal to us that Christ is present to us, for us and within us.
He has come to us and we welcome him.
The watchfulness or vigilance required at this time concerns keeping our hearts and souls free of clutter. The kind of clutter that blocks out our sensitivity and concern for the well being of others. Many folks are struggling ..not only economically but psychologically as well. Let us be aware of this. While food may fill bellies there are other forms of hunger as well.
Thus celebrating Advent at this time does have an apocalyptic flavor as well. Life as we know it has become very challenging in very unique ways. People see signs and interpret various signs as apocalyptic ones.
My response to this, is our ongoing vigilance over our very own hearts and souls. Christ is always available and accessible to us. Do we welcome him in times of our own adversity or desolation? Or do we reject his presence when we are faced with making critical decisions?
Though in some ways, Advent is also meant to be a penitential period of fasting and prayer, we do get caught up with the festive preparations of these times. We enjoy the hustle and bustle of making the black cake, ginger beer, sorrel and ponche a creme ready. Pastelles are usually made in advance and I do not doubt for one moment that some of them will be consumed prior to Christmas Day. No waiting involved there.
With Covid as an ongoing presence amongst us, many “Christmas parties” will have to be curtailed. After all it is a critical time and we need to put the wellbeing of others as well as our own ahead of our desires.
So as I continue to ponder and reflect on what this period means…I discover once again the essential value of all our liturgical seasons and the faith experiences they foster. These experiences are multi-faceted and multidimensional.
In spite of the ups and downs, the moments of edginess that life on ledges may have or the feeling that slipping away over edges can occur (thanks to a microbe), there is lots of room to rejoice. We can be refreshed by those moments of fun and laughter and great music.
Of course there are those still, quiet moments of being one with nature and its Creator. The fresh morning breeze and the soft lights of new dawns.
At those times one can listen attentively and discern the Voice that speaks to us from the wilderness of life all around us. It is the Voice that speaks clearly, distinctly of what is possible or imminent for our well-being.
That voice gives hope, promises that all is not lost. When life seems like a mountain of doubt or our valleys cause us to sink, all will be levelled and the path ahead will be straightened for us.
This is the wonderful Adventure of life itself.
This is the message of hope for these times. This is the time we sing that age old song:
O Come, O Come Emanuel.