Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Color Purple: Sports and Spirituality for Advent

Advent is a holy time, a liturgical season characterized by expectant waiting, hopeful anticipation and joyful preparation. The days leading up to Christmas ought to serve as an invitation to slow down, to pay attention and wait for the Lord, but too often they are just the opposite. The bustle of holiday festivities, shopping, baking and eating (of course) are a welcome distraction, but make it tough to open our hearts and homes for the birth of Christ. Therefore, I take all of the wisdom of Advent and those who teach and preach about it with open arms. This year, I have found a few tips and tools in the world of Sports and Spirituality; I hope they will help you wait, anticipate and prepare the way of the Lord, too.
The Color Purple
Purple (or violet) has traditionally been the primary color of Advent. I have to admit, when I see purple inside of a Church, I think of Lent—a season of repentance and fasting. We are called to the same during Advent, though Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the rest of my calendar this month suggest otherwise. Purple is however, also the color of royalty and the sovereignty of Christ, demonstrating the anticipation of the coming King. Integrating this color was and is a great call by the Church as purple—in its majesty—is hard not to notice. The reminder it seeks to offer is duly noted. No wonder Alice Walker titled her Pulitzer prize winning novel "The Color Purple." 

She wrote, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.” I was reminded of these words thanks to Jesuit priest, dressed in purple vestments at Mass during Advent last week. I thought to myself, "it probably does." 
Every season, I make a point of teaching my golfers to take a moment during practice to behold and appreciate their surroundings. We play a sport that it out of doors, covering acres of land and various terrains. While not all athletes have this opportunity, we do—and so I encourage this act and consider it a spiritual discipline. I say, "perhaps you notice the clear sky, or the  fluffy, bright clouds. Maybe you heard a beautiful song bird only to see it take flight? Do the Cypress trees capture your imagination?" There is so much to notice in the open space around us. 

To respect creation is to respect the Creator. So out of respect for the Lord, I try to pay attention. You might not live in a place that allows you to play golf during Advent, but the discipline of noticing is a spiritual one. Next time you go for a run, a walk, hit the ski slopes, venture to ice skate, look up...look around! Give thanks and praise! Enjoy and delight. 

The Advent Challenge Journal
Those who write down their goals and track their progress are the most successful at reaching them! Seeing what we want and reading what we have done and have yet to do to get there holds us more accountable, eliminates confusion and provides direction. Oh yeah.

And, female athletes have a helpful resource at their fingertips: The Advent Challenge Journal, created by FIERCE

FIERCE is an acronym standing for Femininity, Identity, Embodiment, Receptivity, Catholicism, and Encounter. According to their mission, these words serve as pillars. Along with Athlete, "they make up the foundation of who we are and what we believe female athletes are being called to live out. If you are a woman and an athlete, consider us part of your team." 
FIERCE approaches Advent like any athlete approaches being "in season." It is a time to prepare and train, pray and profess. Therefore,  FIERCE founder, Samantha Kelly has created one-minute videos, accessible on both their website and Instagram, for female athletes to reflect upon the life of Mary, the model for a FIERCE athlete. Some days begin with an essential question—one that we are asked to consider in order to grow in love and in faith. Other days give tips for reaching our spiritual, workout and nutritional goals—the foundation of the Advent Challenge Journal.

I value this resource because it is so user friendly! Not all journals are as simple yet direct. Each week of Advent has a theme and a simple check list for the user to indicate if she met each of the day's three goals. There is room to reflect upon the week on the page thereafter. It feels great to check those boxes and I am sure it will feel even better come Christmas to know that in some way I prepared myself holistically for His coming.

Busted Halo's Advent Calendar
Calorie free, no cost, and age appropriate, this is the Advent Calendar I look forward to daily. Created by Busted Halo, this virtual Advent calendar leads "you to a special Advent-themed Daily Jolt and MicroChallenge that will help you stay in touch with the true meaning of the season." Although there are no sports figures or athletes among the featured faces, I don't see why there couldn't be in the future! Regardless, the profiles are spiritual heroes and I appreciate the thought and prayer they invite me to consider.

In Closing
This Sunday is Gaudete Sunday and we will light the rose candle, not a purple one. This ritual serves to encourage and remind us to rejoice! take hold! have faith—we are almost there. Athletes know that a sports season can wear us out. We need encouragement, rest and inspiration to achieve our goal and finish strong. I invite you, as we begin to wind down the Advent season to make the most of the time we have left...
  • Notice the color purple at Mass and out in nature.
  • Keep track or your spiritual, physical and personal goals.
  • Read and pray daily with the words of inspiring lives.
The Incarnation awaits.
Happy Advent!

Photo Credits
The Color Purple
Prepare Ye the Way

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