Approaching the third Sunday in Advent at breakneck speed it is hard to put ourselves into a mode of waiting. We don’t have time to wait. There is just too much life to cram in to every available slot in the day to even think about waiting. But sometimes life forces us to come to the realization that waiting is all we have to do. We can fill the moments of our waiting with distracting things – but we will still wait. The danger of distraction is that we may miss the very thing we are waiting for. Advent reminds us that it is important to learn how to wait, well.
Babies, even supernaturally conceived ones, take about nine months to work up the courage to be born. That is not something you want to rush too much. Nine months is about right. After the miraculous events surrounding conception, I wonder if Mary and Joseph looked with different wonder at her growing belly than any other young couple expecting their first child. Culture probably prohibited it, but Mary’s conversations with the other mothers would reveal that her pregnancy was pretty much like everyone else’s. Nothing supernatural there! She had to wait, just like they did. The promise she had received receded into the back ground noise of life.
The noise of our lives tends to become so loud that we can not even hear the melody of the season unless we stop and sit still long enough to retune the ears of our hearts to the silence at the center of the Universe. Christmas becomes one thing after another, one item checked off the to do list then on to the next – until we simply check off the day and are into the new year without even knowing what has happened. Advent is a deliberate attempt at slowing – at remembering – at reflecting.
We remember the promise and what it might mean. We consider the longing for which the promise was good news. We let ourselves enter in to that place of deep desire once again and refuse to be filled with anything but Him for Whom we wait. We walk slowly and drink in the lights and the laughter and the love that seem everywhere present in this forced, embraced waiting. We know that they will be missed if we don’t notice – and so we notice. We walk slowly enough for small children to keep up. We walk slowly enough for weary souls to explore the edges of longing. We walk slowly enough for the sense of adventure and hope to begin to build. We stop every once in a while and listen. “Do you hear what I hear . . . ?”