Here and Now: NPR Inspired Thoughts on Advent

This post, written by Alex Shea Will, was originally posted on congremerging.wordpress.com. There’s a program on NPR, broadcast out of Boston’s NPR affiliate WBUR, that I really love called “Here and Now.” Hosted by the wonderful Robin Young, the website describes the show as:

Here! Now! In the moment! Paddling in the middle of a fast moving stream of news and information.

Every year, after Thanksgiving and before Christmas, I always feel like I’m in the middle of that fast moving stream. (Except I’m pretty sure I lost the paddle and I’m just hoping I don’t crash into the shore.) No matter how many years I spend on earth, I’m consistently taken aback but the sudden change of current and intensity in the stream. Before I have time to prepare, I’m travelling way faster than I prepared for, thrown all over the canoe, and soaked to the bone. Between Black Friday and the hype of holiday shopping, if you’re not careful, that stream will throw you right out of your canoe.

Although, I can’ t blame this all on some “sinful,” rampant consumerism; these are truly stressful times of the year. Whether it’s the craze of shopping, the stress of travel, or even the time lost anticipating the magic of the season, it can be really hard to practice being here and now. Some might even say, after the conditions I described, who would want to be here and now anyway?

I wouldn’t.

I think that’s where the gift of Advent comes in.

For a season that is most memorable for it’s emphasis on “waiting,” whose very name comes from the Latin word meaning “coming,” it’s hard to see how Advent can help us find the here and now in this stream.

It takes a bit of work.

See, Advent may be about “waiting” and what is to come, but it’s also about beginning. The first Sunday in Advent marks the beginning of the liturgical year. It marks that moment when we begin the story anew. A story that without the proper welcoming of beginning feels as fresh as a tired, old song. Before we can wait, we must begin, and in order to begin we have to be, here and now.

This isn’t just a catch phrase about living in a physical point in time. Imagine me pointing to myself, imagine you pointing to yourself, because I’m talking about beinghere, inside of ourselves. While we are most notably waiting for the birth of the Christ child, Advent also reminds us of our waiting for ultimate reconciliation, the day when all the odds will be made even.

Take a deep breath. (Seriously). Exhale. (Thank you). Be here. Now. Four weeks of being here and now. Today is the beginning of what could be, what will be. What are you called to do as we wait? How are you called to usher in the coming reconciliation? We only find out when we welcome Advent with our full being, here and now.