Think about the things you have waited for: the phone to ring; the movie to start; the 16th or 21st or 65th birthday; to be a grown up; the baby to be born; are we there yet?; for the rebate check to arrive. (Remember sending in your cereal box tops plus $1 for a toy? Those six to eight weeks lasted forever.) Many things we wait for with great anticipation.
Of course there are things we wait for that we are dreading, too. The biopsy results, the pathology report, the news about Dad, the news about the fire or the wreck or the tornado or the hurricane or the news that someone checked "no" on the love note (Dear XXX, I like you. Do you like me? Yes or No).
Sometimes there is just waiting. Waiting for things to change, for the economy to pick up, for the companies to start hiring, for people to understand and care, waiting for a sign. Waiting in line. Boy are we bad at that one.... I sometimes think that hand-held devices were really invented so that we would have something to do while we are waiting. We are antsy when we are called upon to wait.
Advent is a time of waiting in all of these ways. It's supposed to be productive (and absolutely can be but, let's face it, it may not be every year). There may be some dread - sometimes people even dread Christmas, when it's the first one without one's beloved perhaps. This year I feel that last element - just waiting for things to be different somehow - more acutely. But as always, Advent is a time when all of these things are true for me. I'm not sure what I'm dreading, but I know mixed in with anticipation and excitement there is something darker and sadder.
But always things are happening, even when we cannot see or measure them. We are learning, we are resting, we are gathering wisdom, we are learning how to look, we are getting experience with living in an in-between time. We need a lot of that experience. There's lots of waiting to do in this life and spending it being antsy is not, on the whole, enriching and life-giving.
I wish that I could always connect "waiting" with "looking for." Because I think this is true - we are looking for signs, looking for affirmation, looking for love and joy and companionship and sometimes looking for a fight or disappointment. And the Advent message is that we are looking for God.
Blessings on your continued waiting time this Advent. Believe me, I know how hard it is.