“Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life”
(Illuminated manuscript from the Book of Hours, the Annunciation 1410)
We have entered a new season within our faith…
Those seasonal cycles of the Church.
For we have now entered the season of waiting…
Otherwise known as Advent.
Taken from the Greek word, parousia, meaning arrival.
As in we are waiting for an arrival.
Yet do we not seem to spend our lives waiting?
Waiting on things to take place, to happen, to hurry up, to change, to come or to go….
However Father Henri Nouwen, in his essay Waiting For God, reminds us that
“for many people, waiting is an awful desert between where they are and where they want to go.
And people do not like such a place.
They want to get out of it by doing something.”
So waiting seems to be something we are relegated to suffer.
But Father Nouwen continues…
“Most of us think of waiting as something very passive, a hopeless state
determined by events totally out of our hands.”
“But there is none this passivity in scripture.
Those who are waiting are waiting very actively.”
“Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction
that somethings happening where you are and that you want to be present to it.
A waitng person is someone who is present to the moment, who believes that this moment is the moment.”
“A waiting person is a patient person.
The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and to live the situation
out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.
Impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and
therefore want to go elsewhere.
“Waiting, then is not passive.”
“To wait open-endedly is an enormous attitude toward life.”
So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that
God molds us according to God’s love and not according to our fear.
The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment,
trusting that new things will happen to us,
new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction.
“That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.”
And so we begin to wait…
actively and radically waiting….
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,
being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.
You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
(Father Henri Nouwen’s words taken from Watch for the Light
Readings for Advent and Christmas / Plough Publishing House