Advent (from the Latin, ad venio) means “to come” or “the coming”. It is a time when we begin to watch for something that we’re told is coming toward us. But for now . . . it’s not here yet.
This creates a tension that most of us don’t like. My eye wants to see “it”. The act of looking is a search for an object to lock onto. But when I look – – it’s not there.
So what do we do? If it’s important enough, we keep looking which then becomes waiting. Waiting is not our favorite thing. We’ve tried over the past thirty years to do away with as much waiting as possible. Think of it: instant coffee, microwave cooking, fast food, 4G hook-ups, bar codes, email, computer banking, speed dating etc. etc.
Ask any systems engineer and they will tell you that waiting is wasted time. It’s bad business. Time is money.
Then right in the middle of the busiest time of the year we have this totally contrary message from the Church. She tells us to “prepare”, to “expect”, to “hope for”, yes, to “long for”. Waiting is good she tells us. It’s a sign of love. We wait expectantly for that which we love.
And isn’t it the case that those things which are most precious are just the ones that cannot be hurried? Let’s be honest, waiting requires patience (Latin, “pati” – to suffer). Ask an expectant mother what waiting is all about. To have her child within her, yet longing to hold the tiny one and see the face she has created.
There really is no other way to spin it. It takes endurance, strength, and forbearance to remain in a state of expectation. It stretches us. Proves our love for that which is “coming”.
So what do we “do” in this time of waiting? A few suggestions:
- Be patient in whatever line you find yourself in. (Hegedorns, DMV). Maybe a “How’s it going”, to the person waiting next to you.
- Be kind to whoever is attending your line. –Drive friendly.
- Say your prayers in the morning (add about 2 minutes to just stare out your window.)
- Think of someone who’s having a hard time right now. Say a prayer for them. Send them a card.
- Give some money away.
- Reflect on a particular bad habit of yours. Use it to remind yourself to be patient with others.
- Take a ride in the country. –Pray for loved ones lost.
- Help a young person. It’s scary out there. Remember what it was like for you? Let them know they can do it.
- Trust God (and surrender to the grace he gives) to bring something good out of the messes we have made.
God loves you. You are His child. A Blessed Advent Sunday.