Monday, December 3, 2007

Wait? Who has time for that?

Sunday marked the beginning of Advent, the Christian season of waiting.

But who has time to wait? Our motto is gotta-have-it-now, with overnight shipping, next-day delivery or immediate download.

We're more likely to demand immediate satisfaction than to wait with expectant hope. Sure, we may admit that certain things can't be rushed -- pregnancy, for instance, or a teenager's maturity -- but that doesn't stop us from frowning and pacing and fretting.

No wonder we have trouble being still. No wonder we can't be at peace. No wonder we become so caught up in the whirlwind of "Christmas" that we forget to breathe.

One of my favorite quotes is from Henri Nouwen, the French writer and priest who learned patience in part from living with disabled adults:

"To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our own imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God molds us according to God’s love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy or prediction."

What new things are being born in you this Advent? Are finding it hard to wait for their arrival?


Danbo020759 said...

I agree, the fine art waiting is not something that is taught anymore -- at least not taught well. Yes, we wait in lines (DMV, can you hear me?) but we've lost the art of being able to wait.

As the Holidays approach, I tell my kids the same thing I tell them as we approach a trip to Disney or a summer vacation getaway -- don't just enjoy the vacation, enjoy waiting for it to arrive. Those final days before vacation arrives hold their own joy -- for too fast is the vacation over.

As a Catholic, I've learned to approach Advent in two ways:

First I celebrate the coming of the Christmas Holiday itself, the celebration of the Word Incarnate. Yes, Chris *did* already come so we really need not "wait" for His birth again.

Second, I celebrate preparing for the day when Christ will come again. Surely, He is with us now but in Spirit only. When He returns in body and soul is what I am waiting for -- that's what I wait for in Advent. Christians should take a page from the Boy Scout motto -- "Be prepared!"

This second item is what I've recently "found" in Advent. More than lighting a candle, more than a reminder to put the tree and nativity scene up, Advent teaches me that waiting has its own joy and rewards. The only difference is that when this particular "vacation" arrives, it will never end.

D.J. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
D.J. said...

GREAT thoughts, Dan!

Soli Deo Gloria