“Advent, a time of waiting”
It seems a strange Advent but, yet it should not be. The season has been celebrated as the beginning of the liturgical calendar beginning back in the late fourth century in Spain and Gaul. At that time the Church prepared for the celebration of the Epiphany. So now in this the 21st century we continue as Church to prepare for the celebration of the Incarnation; God becoming human in the person of Jesus Christ.
Why do I feel it is strange? The sense of waiting seems to be in conflict. During this pandemic time, we are waiting for things to return to normal, but deep in our hearts we know that they will not be normal. So, we wait. Many have made the decision not to gather with family during the Christmas Season so there is a sense of waiting until that can happen again. We wait but we don’t want to wait. We want all to be different.
As we experience this Advent time of waiting, can we use the time to be open to God’s presence in our lives or do we hurry forward with Christmas decorations long before the holiday is celebrated? Do we fill up our time with all kinds of activities instead of adopting a sense of prayerful waiting?
Henri Nouwen, a noted spiritual writer, shares some important thoughts regarding Advent. He speaks of Advent as a time of “active waiting.” “A waiting person is someone who is present to the moment, who believes that this moment is the moment.” During this pandemic, we are reminded through various articles that mindfulness is a way to deal with stress. We are to live in the moment and appreciate God’s activity in our lives in the present. Nouwen also speaks of patience during this Advent time. During this time of being mindful we need to practice patience. We also need to develop a sense of open-ended waiting. We often wait but with the desire that things will turn out as we want them to turn out. We want to be in control. And yet, we know deep down that we are not in control. That is what we have learned in the past months.
Perhaps this Advent can be our best Advent ever, as we learn to wait patiently. Simone Weil, a Jewish writer says this, “Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life.” Nouwen says that “Jesus says you must stand ready, stay awake, stay tuned to the word of God, so that you will survive all that is going to happen and be able to stand confidently in the presence of God together in community. That is the attitude of waiting that allows us to be people who can live in a very chaotic world and survive spiritually.” Waiting for God
We can and should experience the best Advent ever.
~by Helen Ackermann