I Can(not?) Wait

Last night we had our second Advent vigil. Each week a sister offers her reflections, and in this week's reflection we were given three words to ponder: waiting, birthing, and gratitude.

I hold much gratitude for my experience yesterday. I attended an Advent retreat given by the poet, writer, and all-around lovely person, Edwina Gateley. The theme of the day was birthing God in the contemporary world.

Edwina reminded us that we are called to gestate. Growing into God's fullness isn't a day-long project. How often I believe that if I can just figure out this puzzle or that idea, then I will finally get the ever-elusive "it" and understand the Mystery of the fullness.

And so I read a poem, engage in a conversation, sit with my thoughts, work with the kids, all the while search, search, searching for the answer. And I cannot wait for those moments. I cannot wait to spend time with a friend. I cannot wait to find that poem that I've been thinking about all day. I cannot wait to take on that new adventure. I cannot wait. I cannot wait. I cannot wait.

But here's the thing. I can wait. There has yet to be a time in my life when I haven't had to wait for that time, or that poem, or that adventure. I try to rush to them because they are my hope for finally finding the understanding I so desperately crave.

And here's the other thing. We need opportunities to practice hope. If we didn't have to wait for the things we claim we cannot wait for, we wouldn't have to have hope. It would all just be here now. I would have already figured out the fullness. And then what...?

During this Advent time, I have an opportunity to practice my hope for fully embracing the Mystery, for knowing that the time with the friend, or the words, or the kids, or the adventure are only steps along the way of true hope, steps of growing into God's fullness. Each of them is only a tiny birth compared to Christmas.

So, now I hope to know that it is okay to not have everything I will ever need right now, to know that I have been given exactly what I need in this present moment, to trust that God always does that providing for me and for everyone else, to hope that I am able to trust that everything will be okay if I let go of the figuring a bit. The words from our responsorial are just the prayer for me.

For you, O God, my soul in stillness waits,
truly my hope is in You.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

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