Waiting is an everyday part of life in Ecuador: for busses, banks, stores, markets, almost anything and always, one waits. Slowly, it became clear to me that efficiency and availability of resources in any form are luxuries and not the experience of the poor. The poor wait. Actually, this truth is captured in the common use of the phrase and concept of mañana, usually meaning whatever one is looking or waiting for will not be available today, but maybe tomorrow.
Wait. I am not a patient man – I hate to wait for anything. Usually, I am impatient with myself and with anyone else and so, for me, waiting requires a change of attitude and all the rest. I have to step back and take the long view. I need to see the moment in the context of the big picture and, although I don’t easily choose that, I confess that to wait can be a good thing. I mean to say the waiting invites me inside myself and helps me slow down and reflect, often finding the cause of my impatience groundless – in the big picture.
Advent is a time of waiting, but not a time of emptiness or frustration. The Church urges us to use these weeks to grow in patience and to reflect on the big picture, something beneficial for all of us. These weeks and the rich liturgies of these Advent days, speak of the hope of the ages: that One is coming to bring relief and freedom.
These can be the days to wonder about our own freedom and the areas of shadow and darkness within ourselves. And in the midst of the waiting, remembering that Christ seeks us out, always ready to bring light into our darkness. And so we can invite him into our shadows.
Advent is a beautiful time to even refresh our dreams for ourselves, for our family and friends, and yes, even our world. What might they be? What stands in the way of these dreams becoming real? How can we overcome these obstacles? Maybe these waiting days can help us to see with greater clarity what matters most in our lives and choose to move away from less important stuff.
Waiting in the Advent time can be like going to the gym to exercise; we grow in strength and stamina in a good way. Yet this kind of waiting is best when complemented by prayer and acts of kindness. The prayer can be simple, a daily time of quiet and maybe reading a passage from Sacred Scripture or a devotional book.
This season often provides many opportunities to reach out to those in need in whatever way we feel God is calling us to do. Any opportunity to express charity and solidarity with the poor and suffering can transform waiting to a time of Grace.
Among the poor where waiting is a way of life, one rarely waits alone. People stand together. People reach out to others and many share something of their stories – amazing than that the waiting often brings with it the gift of solidarity with others. Think about it: have you noticed how an unexpected delay in a flight or something, finds one suddenly speaking to another such that frequently friendship and stories are shared? Often enough the wait becomes something much less burdensome and the moment is transformed.
Advent is a time to wait … ahh not just an ordinary inconvenience, but rather a special time that contains immeasurable Grace for those who would choose to wait with the Church and to engage in quiet, prayer, reflection, personal growth, and charity. If, like the poor, we allow this waiting to help us grow in greater solidarity with one another, and, if we embrace these opportunities with joyful anticipation of the gift of a greater unity with Christ, the fruits that will be harvested in our lives and the difference this can make in our world will make this Advent a true time of miraculous Grace.
December 1 ~ First Sunday of Advent
The message is clear on this first Sunday of Advent:
“Walk in the light of the Lord”;
“You must be prepared…”;
“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Church gives us this holy season as a time for us to re-order our lives and our priorities.
While our culture will try to distract us from the importance of Christ’s birth, take a few minutes each day in prayer to extend a personal invitation to Jesus to come into your life.
Your prayer will produce gratitude and your gratitude will foster hope in the Lord