We are on the threshold of Advent, and yet in the heartland flowers are still blooming. We are having a very long Indian summer. The impatiens are leggy, but still have color, and the petunia, who will last even when the snow falls upon them, have turned their faces, yellow, orange, purple, violet, to the rising sun each morning. The roses rival the autumn leaves who have gone from their vibrant reds and oranges to a dull russet while the rose bush continues to bloom. That flower associated as the penultimate symbol of love flowers on beyond its appointed season. If you wanted to name a perfect flower it would well the rose.
I am thinking of Advent differently this year, with St. Paul’s letters in mind. It seems to me that Paul brought another kind of Advent, the coming of Jesus as the Christ into the world and into our awareness. Paul brought to awareness the living presence of Christ Jesus to a whole new sector of the Mediterranean population. Paul’s main theme is that we are brought to new life, a new birth, in faith in Christ. Christ becomes the highest and most perfect symbol of all that is human and sacred. His living, dying and rising makes that god-life available to us, not in some distant future, but now. For Paul it was always now. In Christ God’s life is born in us now, not as a baby in a manger, but in the manger of our hearts. One adult to another. One fully human and sacred Person to another human person who has within him/her the possibility of bringing the sacred reality that we are to the fullness of life, into full bloom. For Paul it was the coming of whatever vision or sensibility that came to him that inaugurated the advent of the Christ. The incarnate God ever available to us now in Him.
In Advent as we put on Christ, we put on the undying, timeless, perfect rose. Who continues to bloom even in the midst of winter’s darkest days, amidst the snow, in spite of the cold, the rose reminding us too of the life-blood that flowed from him onto the earth to mark it forever with his beauty, grace, life and love.