Every morning we wake up, it's a sort of new beginning, isn't it? Yet, some beginnings are surely more meaningful than others, like moving to a new locale or the entry of new people into one's life. Sometimes a new beginning is had by the loss of something, like the loss of a loved one or a state in life. Beginnings are often exciting, but they can also be scary or disorienting. We all desperately seek some stability in life, & occassionally we find ourselves in a blissfully tranquil state for a while. But this stability is an illusion; our lives are shifting & changing continuously.
Yesterday was the first day of the new liturgical year: the first Sunday of Advent. A new beginning. Advent means an arrival. It means being ready for that arrival. Take a moment to think about all the waiting you do. In grocery lines, bank lines, fast food lines, soccer registration lines, airports, classrooms, etc. Has all this waiting made us numb to the process of waiting? Surely. We're tired of waiting. We want it now!
Now, hang on a minute. The kind of waiting we're talking about is a preparation. Important things in life require this. Who wants the stork to drop off the baby ten minutes later? No, the pregnancy is a time of preparation for the couple. A very visible and present sign that won't be ignored. It requires attention & action.
What we wait for is analogous. We await the fulfillment of something we've been promised, somethings that began long ago & carries forward into eternity. We have been swept up in this current of human drama, yet we don't sense the motion. We're a little too close; a little too busy. We're definitely too impatient. And we're not ready.
All time is sacred; every second is a chance at a new beginning. But Advent is a time Holy Mother Church in her wisdom sets aside especially for us to remember that & live it out in an intentional way. We do not wait for something indefinite & unknown, but for something we know and love as close to us as to ourselves; as we ourselves are known and loved. We embrace this season as a time of preparation & conversion; for who is truly ready for this arrival? Yet, our waiting is not - must not be - a time of frustration and anxiety. It is a time of sober, yet even still joyful, preparation. A time of grace. Our waiting is joyful, because of the One for whom we wait. With this, the pain of all the other waitings vanishes.
In here we find a hidden treasure - rather than closing us in on ourselves, this waiting places our attention on the other, the One who comes. In this One, we can then find all the other ones who come our way. This becomes part of our preparation, that we lose ourselves, even if only for a moment, and concern ourselves with others.
And as we prepare, joyful even now of our Beloved who loves us, we also await the day when there will be no more waiting.