Waiting is hard sometimes. It is especially hard when you know something amazing is just around the corner. However, I have also experienced times when it felt like I could not see a light at the end of the tunnel. During those times, I started to question if I would perpetually be in a season of waiting, but never receiving. It is so easy to fall into despair and lose all semblance of hope. It’s our human tendency to want to get to the next thing as soon as possible. We look at waiting as a burden, especially in our “fast-food” consumerist culture. This sense of on-demand lives has caused us to lose sight of the beauty that waiting can bring into our lives.
There is so much wonder in the waiting.
I still have a long way to go before I unpack that statement fully. But what I’m learning is that waiting has the capacity to transform my heart and prepare me for the good things to come, if I embrace it.
This is the second Advent that I have had the incredible blessing of carrying life in my womb. It has been a poignant and prayerful reminder for me of Mary’s motherhood. I wonder if she had sciatic pain, or if she struggled to find a dress that would fit. I wonder if she struggled to accept the changes that were occurring in her body. I wonder if she got out of breath every 5 steps she took. Did she get impatient during those last few weeks of pregnancy, that seem to crawl by?
Pregnancy is, essentially, one (long) Advent. We get the word “Advent” from the Latin word Adventus, which means arrival, or coming. We await the coming of Christ during the liturgical season of Advent. The experience of pregnancy in general has helped me learn to welcome the waiting. You cannot rush a child’s time in the womb. You can only do your best to be patient and create a healthy environment in which the baby can grow and develop. In the same way, we cannot rush Christmas time.
We need this period of Advent to refine our hearts. The depth to which we receive the Baby Jesus into our hearts this Christmas season is dependent on our willingness to wait for Him this Advent.
What are you waiting on this Advent season? What stirs your heart to longing? Like me, is it a child, either biologically or adoptive? Perhaps you are in a season of infertility and waiting for God’s time to grow your family. Or maybe you are in a season of singleness and anxiously awaiting Mr. (or Mrs.) Right? Whether it be a physical, emotional, or psychological healing, know that there is power, grace, and mercy in the waiting, especially in this holy Advent season.
Why? Because at this moment in time, God is painstakingly crushing the grapes. He is making new wine in us, and anyone who has made wine knows that it is not an overnight process. He does not want that wine to be poured into old wineskins, for if they do, “The skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved” (Mt. 9:17). Even if we don’t realize it, all of us have an innate hunger for Christ to come and light up our life. And to do that, He needs to clean house. He is ready to clean out the dusty corners of our souls and soften our hearts. He wants to overshadow us, the same way that the Power of the Most High overshadowed the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is waiting to come into our hearts and change everything, the same way that He did, at midnight, in piercing cold when He took on our humanity in a stable. We need this time of Advent to allow Christ to grow and flourish in the wombs of our most desolate spaces, so that He can breathe a life into us that we could never even dream of conceiving on our own.
There is so much hope in waiting. There is a beautiful Aramaic phrase that has made a rather large imprint on my spiritual life as of late.
It means Come, Our Lord.
Taken that way, it is almost a command to our Lord to come now, without delay. However, there is another way it can be taken. It can also be translated to mean
“Our Lord has come.”
To me, this phrase sums up Advent almost perfectly.
We have reason for Hope because Christ has already come into our world. He took on our human nature in the form of a helpless babe, reliant on human parents.
We cling to hope that He will come once more. After all, He told us He would! And He has never failed to keep His word.
And furthermore, we dare to command Our Lord to come into our hearts each and every day. “Our” is a very possessive word that some may view as audacious. But Maranatha is not translated as “Come, the Lord, who we have no access to because You are too mighty and high above us.” No, it is translated as “Come, OUR Lord”. Because He is our Lord. We have the words to do this in Scripture, and the light of Tradition in the Church to guide us.
This is the great and beautiful paradox of our Christian faith. The only reason that we can be so bold as to command our Lord to come is because we know that He has already come! This is the meaning of hope.
Brothers and sisters, we fully enter into this season of Advent when we embrace it. Along with Hope, there are three other themes to guide us for each week: Peace, Love, and Joy. A practical application of this that I have adopted in recent years is to finish all of my Christmas shopping before Advent begins. By getting that out of the way, I am prepared to use the liturgical season of Advent to focus 100% of my attention on the spiritual preparations for Christmas, instead of the material. In this way, I don’t lose sight of the “Reason for the Season.”
This Advent season, it is my prayer that you can embrace this incredible reality and gift of hope, that we have done nothing to earn, but were given freely by a God who loves us.
I pray that you lean into the waiting as you prepare your heart to be a welcome place for God to reside.
Yes, our Lord has come. Maranatha. Come again, Our Lord. Maranatha.