The below reflection was originally posted on This Ignatian Life blog (http://ignatianlife.org/) on January 16, 2011. It was inspired by the theme of stability at our recent WMF Staff Gathering in July 2010.
This past Christmas season was my second in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As Christmas approached and many from our community began to leave for vacation, I began to miss family, friends, and Christmas traditions in California. Those moments of homesickness motivated me to consider the things I enjoy about Christmas in Argentina. It didn’t take too long to come up with a top ten list of favorite Christmas customs and traditions I look forward to in Argentina. Many of these favorite things about Christmas in Argentina involve the arrival of summer in the Southern Hemisphere and most involve traditions shared with my community here. This exercise of attentiveness served me well in embracing and celebrating the Christmas season more fully.
As I begin 2011, I desire to deepen my stability and extend roots of love in Buenos Aires. At our Word Made Flesh Staff Gathering last July, Walter Forcatto, Argentina Co-Field Director, challenged our community to deepen our call to place. Part of loving our neighbor involves growing in love with the places where we serve. Walter encouraged us to name, remember and celebrate what we love in the places where we live out our mission and vocation. Stability in mission entails what we make our own, what we love, and what we hope to love.
This new year I desire to do just that. I intend to make effort for more exercises like my Christmas top ten. I plan to pay attention to the things I love about the city, culture, and people of Buenos Aires. I trust that this posture will enable me to more deeply embrace and share in the fullness of life with those I am called to serve among.
I noticed something else this Christmas season. As Christmas approached, many of my friends here in Buenos Aires asked me when I was leaving for “las fiestas.” Most of my friends assumed I was headed to the United Sates or somewhere on vacation for the holiday season. When I responded that I was staying for Christmas and New Years this year, this often lead to conversations about what Christmas is like in Argentina. We shared our different Christmas traditions in Argentina and the United States. It provided meaningful connection to share in the culture and traditions of my friends who I serve among.
My prayer is that this posture of attentiveness to place can continue this new year ahead.