“Wait, wait,” we hear far too often. “Just wait, it will come.” Waiting. It’s an anxious word. Uneasy, even agitating. You arrive in Florida for your January vacation. You’re told your room will be ready in about an hour when you made your reservation months before. “About.” So you sit and stew at the pool with eighty degrees sunshine in your Wisconsin’s winters while everyone else is in the water. “About an hour.”
I already told you that I woke up in early November to Karen Carpenter, hoping I have a “merry little Christmas now.” Now? We already know of Halloween decorations mis-timings. And, how many Black Friday’s preceded the one yesterday? Waiting.
We’re in such a hurry to hurry forth what can only be slowly brewed. Have you ever watched a pot of coffee brew, staring at it with early-morning-eyes and wondering why that noise hasn’t stopped yet? When the gurgling subsides, the sound of pouring takes over and you can savor and endure the new day that lays before you. That first taste. That first taste that says, “Yes, I am alive, and I am here.” If you’re not a coffee person, then recall how your own waiting is eventually satisfied.
We can’t just wait. People wonder now in which future minute I’ll be done talking. Poor things. Don’t you wonder how we stay alert and watchful, as Jesus asks of us? Jesus doesn’t ask us to wait. It’s too bothersome. He asks us to be watchful of things around us, to be attentive and anticipate. “Staying awake” means being aware and alive; keeping your eyes peeled. Welcoming the stranger, alert to what’s behind mean words and actions, accepting a compliment instead of saying that stupid line, “Oh, it was nothing.”
Waiting. It might be the bus, the long-awaited niece’s visit, that promised phone call, a hospice nurse telling you that your friend’s time is near, the whistle to blow, the alarm clock to stop on its own, the friend with his long-winded story that you’ve heard three times before, the mail to arrive, for your 90th birthday to finally come, when will my forty-year-old son finally move out?, for my Christmas package to arrive at her home on time, for the season of spring, for the nurse to finally call my name after 45 minutes sitting next to the sign that reads “If your name has not been called in fifteen minutes…”, for the test results to be given to me, will I wake up in purgatory or heaven?
We hate to wait, so what do we do in the meantime? We hurry things up, making them happen according to our personal calendars and whims. We predict the end results without living the means. “I’d thought you’d never arrive,” you say when she does arrive.
What do Advent and Lent have in common besides the color purple? Both are about transformation. Just as Jesus was transformed from Divinity to humanity we are called to transforms our lives. It’s not always about change, because that happens at any age, but it is also about strengthening the gifts and talents given us by God.
Waiting is strictly only about time. Anticipation is all imagination, wonder, mystery, and surprises. So, lose your wristwatch of waiting and put on the hat or scarf of anticipation. Please absorb the sights and sounds of this marvelous Church season. Do so with the eyes of an eight-year-old mingled with the wisdom of your years. Ironically, Advent is a one-time event, honored and repeated for us every year. Our heavenly waiting is preoccupied with time. During this meantime, rely instead on the anticipation of mystery that is Advent. That’s the fullness of the Advent experience. Advent now becomes a blueprint for our everyday lives and no longer a restricted season. Please don’t miss a moment of it because life’s moments only last that long.
Advent doesn’t need to be synonymous with that dreadful word waiting. Advent can be full of that beautiful and engaging word anticipation. I pray that your anticipation of Christ’s birth this year may be incredibly thankful and enriching to you, your family, and your friends.
And now, you may stop waiting, I’m done.