There are many ways to wait. We know many people today who are waiting for the arrival of a better world.
There are those who are waiting for the result of a Covid test. Some are waiting for their quarantine period to end. Most are eagerly waiting for a Covid-19 vaccine very soon to be distributed.
Others are waiting to see if they will get their job back when the economy recovers. On the other hand, the farmer who sows a winter crop must wait patiently throughout the Spring and Summer for the grain to ripen at harvest time.
And a woman expecting the birth of her child waits in a vastly different way to any of these; for her it is a time of great longing, a time of hope. Her time of waiting and hoping is realised in the birth of the child and there is great rejoicing.
Life teaches the farmer or the expectant parent how to wait.
The life of faith also teaches us how to wait; to wait in joyful hope for the coming of Christ, for the coming of God, for the fulfilment of life.
Advent, from the Latin for ‘arrival’, is the time the Church remembers and celebrates that our God comes to us: in the Lord Jesus, in the events of our lives, in the silence of our hearts, and beyond this life – when we see the Lord face-to-face.
Jesus, tells the story of a man who leaves his home to go on a journey and puts his slaves in charge while he is away.
He assigns them different work including the task of the doorkeeper “to be on the watch”. They need to be vigilant because he can return home at any minute.
Can we imagine the master’s reaction if he finds his doorkeeper not on the job? Sleep, is commonly used to mean inattention, lack of alertness, as well as death. Surely not a good thing this Advent season.
In the prayer ‘Patient trust’ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ reminds us of the tension between our desire to grasp time as if it is something to purchase and our desire to cooperate with the time of God as if it is a gift.
He knows it takes courage to ‘let go and let God’ because it comes with frustration and uncertainty. Teilhard wants us to trust that it is only God who knows how our life will pan out. To take the risk in following Jesus and to accept our unfinished state.
If the doorkeeper is attentive and patient throughout his shift, he will “keep awake” and be ready to greet his master when he comes. He will be a model of mindfulness that is awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.
Can we, like the doorkeeper, accept the frustration and uncertainty of being in waiting?
Can we trust that God’s hand is leading us, letting our thoughts and feelings come and go in a mindful way? Perhaps we can be in touch with the presence of Jesus while desiring an even closer relationship come Christmas day.
Patient Trust by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability – and that it may take a very long time.
And so, I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually – let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that His hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.
– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ