It’s just a little ironic that after nine “expectant” months of waiting, waiting, waiting, we enter the season of…waiting.
Welcome to Advent.
When our boys were small and life seemed so simple, they would burst out of Sunday School proudly bearing the homely little Advent wreaths they had made. Four candles, one for each Sunday of the Advent season, nestled upon an evergreen wreath meant to represent the promise of eternal life in Christ.
They looked a little like this:
Admittedly, they might have counted down those Sundays waiting more for Santa than for Jesus. A lot of people do. Funny how we tend to put our hopes in temporal things.
I have spent these past months in a waiting mode that might be better described as a semi-coma. My motto has been “wake me when it’s over”, which may have made sense in April or even May, but come December I see that my logic has been faulty.
All those months and I have not prepared one whit for the holidays. Foolish me.
But there is still time, perhaps, to prepare my soul.
A quote from French philosopher Simone Weil:
“Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life.”
(This strikes me as ever so much more profound than “wake me when it’s over”.)
And famed theologian Henri Nouwen’s words:
“Most of us consider waiting as something very passive, a hopeless state determined by events totally out of our hands. The bus is late? We cannot do anything about it, so we have to sit there and just wait. It is not difficult to understand the irritation people feel when somebody says, “Just wait.” Words like that push us into passivity.
But there is none of this passivity in Scripture. Those who are waiting are waiting very actively. They know that what they are waiting for is growing from the ground on which they are standing. Right here is a secret for us about waiting. If we wait in the conviction that a seed has been planted and that something has already begun, it changes the way we wait. Active waiting implies being fully present to the moment with the conviction that something is happening where we are and that we want to be present to it. A waiting person is someone who is present to the moment, believing that this moment is the moment.”
Our popular culture places great value on the concept of “mindfulness”, which, in and of itself may be a good tool for relaxation. But it strikes me a little as being like a rail car that has been decoupled from its engine. It can’t really take me anywhere. Spiritual mindfulness, on the other hand, has an appeal. This moment is THE moment.
With life on pare-down, slowdown, shutdown, we actually have the opportunity to spend a Christmas season focusing on – Christmas!
I just downloaded this one to help me:
And these all look good, too:
In this season of “expectant waiting”, it is a temptation to put my hopes in temporal things.
I’m waiting to travel. I’m waiting for Broadway to re-open. I’m waiting to sit down to dinner inside a fine restaurant, anywhere. I am especially waiting to sit with my feet in the sand at Hula Grill at Ka’anapali. I’m waiting to dump the masks and have a party! I’m waiting, with an aching heart, to hug my family.
But, awaking from my semi-coma, I realize that this season of waiting may be an opportunity like no other. We may only have take-out to feed our bodies but riches abound for feeding our souls.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. -Psalm 130: 5-6