Waiting. It's not something I do easily or that comes naturally to me, though I've had ample opportunity of late to hone my skills. I've been waiting on cakes to cook and cakes to cool. Waiting on family to arrive. Waiting on the phone to ring for a long anticipated call. And may I just say that waiting in line at the bank drive-in last week nearly put me over the edge. Of late, there have also been the true "waiting room" experiences -- in doctor's offices, in hospitals, and in labs. And of course, my most on-going waiting involves the upcoming birth of my first grandbaby. Waiting. It's a way of life. But I know I'm not alone in it. I read recently that people feel wronged if they have to wait for more than 24 hours to receive a reply from an email. No doubt, we have become accustomed to immediacy, and we just plain don't like to wait.
Having made the proper arrangements last night, I woke this morning to my Advent wreath and its 4 candles (3 purple and 1 pink) on my coffee table awaiting their first light of the season. Given to my inability to wait, it almost seems ludicrous that I would still engage in such an activity. But I find it necessary -- almost like waiting to open those gifts from my sister-in-law. If nothing else, Advent evokes anticipation. But in a world that demands for Christmas to come earlier and earlier every year, what do we do with such a season as Advent? Do we just abandon it altogether? Or do we relearn how to wait, finding meaning in the act?
I've discovered that pregnancy is a great teacher for waiting. For one thing, waiting is not just about passing time. Not only are there the necessary outward preparations of buying baby furniture and stocking the drawers with tiny items, but there are the more inward workings. Each week my sweet daughter-in-love sends not only a picture of her developing tummy but an update as to what's going on inside with our "Little Hoot." Every week, our little love is developing or growing something new that is absolutely essential for his/her life. outside the womb. And I don't care how impatient I am, the last thing I want is for that baby of ours to come early. The waiting is an absolutely invaluable part of the process. It is not passive like I've often assumed. It is a nurturing time, priceless in its own right. Advent does the same thing. You can surely agree that there's no busier season of the year than the one that stretches from Thanksgiving to Christmas. But Advent does not demand passivity but activity: a vigilant internal waiting that, as we wait, forms new life in us.
I'm convinced that Advent is not a cultural dinosaur. It is an event to be cherished and re-learned if necessary. And quite frankly, it is not so much a season as it is a way of life. Of stopping, of entering into a deeper place with God, of being present, and yes, of anticipating. Without it, our journey is impoverished.
And so this morning, as the rest of the congregation sings "Joy to the World," my heart will be crying out, "Come, Thou long expected Jesus. I'm anticipating ... and waiting."
Just an ordinary moment....