It is the Advent season and in all stores, the rush of shoppers has formed long lines in front of cash registers. Everyone seems frazzled. I look over to the self-checkout stations originally designed to facilitate or eliminate the pains of waiting. The wait line there appears just as long. It doesn’t bother me. It is the Advent season, and I am patient. Still, I choose the shortest line in my estimation and wait to pay for a couple of items I hold in my hand. The person at the register is having trouble with her electronic coupons and credit card that cause the wait in line to drag. The person in front of me begins to huff and puff showing signs of restlessness. The person behind me is growing impatient. He’s in a suit and tie, and is anxiously looking at his watch. He says he’s in a hurry and doesn’t have time to waste. Which prompts me to think…why do we consider waiting a waste of time? Why do we have this nagging sensation that our life is slipping away, wasted in the “eternal” moments of waiting?
With the speed of the world today, where everything is for the here and now, we simply do not like to wait. We huff, we puff, our nerves tense, we stress and fidget impatiently to move to the “next” place in our lives once we have arrived someplace because it is not the someplace else, someplace else and someplace else where we think we have to be. The last thing we want to do in the numbered moments of our diminishing time is to “waste” it by waiting. But that’s what we do. We wait. We wait for our food at restaurants; we wait for our burger at a drive through window; we wait for tickets to see the newest movie or for the latest ride at an amusement center. We wait for packages to arrive that we ordered online in record speed; we wait for that phone call or text; we wait at the doctor’s office or at the DMV. We wait for test results, or for the acceptance letter in the mail. We wait for that great job to come along. We wait for our paychecks and tax returns; wait for our retirement to set us free from the binds of our career. We wait for that perfect relationship; for our families to reunite, for a loved one to come home from war. We wait for a child to be born. We wait for the sun. We wait for rain. It never ends.
We are so busy rushing through life, that we have forgotten how to enjoy the moments that make us live in the present. We have forgotten the fun of standing in line with our friends or family members deciding which to buy for whom or what to cook for a gathering. We’ve forgotten to let ourselves fall into the steady rhythm of life as we sit in a coffee shop huddled over hot drinks, hands rubbing against one another, and our whispers trying to keep each other warm. We have forgotten the tidbits we tell and stories we share as we wait for our waiter to come with our food. We have forgotten the beauty of a patient smile as we absorb the colors, sounds and scents. We have forgotten that the best part of Christmas is not Christmas Day, but like little children, the waiting for Christmas. This is the Advent season where the joy is in the waiting. With sleigh bell songs across the airwaves and on our lips resonating in our hearts, stringing of lights around the house, smelling orange and pine around the fire, cupping our hands around a mug of hot chocolate, (or cognac), we should be waiting like children. Waiting with a flutter in our hearts and tingling anticipation, faithfully waiting for that proclamation of love, the arrival of the birth of a child wrapped in swaddling cloths, the Messiah, Jesus.
As we wait in long lines this Advent season, or as we wait for anything in life, it is important to remember that we are ALL waiting for something. Wait, with patience, humility, and expectant hope in a state of prayer. To wait means to strengthen, means to hope, means to believe, means to love.
For God the Word became man in Christ, celebrated on Christmas day. Wait. And the world is sanctified.