Skip to main content

Waiting Without

When you are waiting you are without what you are waiting for. As a new grandmother I experience this absence in an intense way. On the second Sunday of Advent I had to leave my post as chief cook and bottle washer after Lila was born. It's a role every grandmother covets and carries out with the greatest of love.
Since I live several states away, I won't be able to see her again for three weeks. During weeks three and four of Advent, I will not only wait for Christmas, but also I will wait to be reunited with Lila, this time with Grumps by my side; his wait to meet her is a little longer than mine. Waiting to see Lila again puts me in touch with the intense ache of being without what my heart longs for.
Perhaps this absence of what we most want is part of the reason we distract ourselves from the spiritual gift of Advent. Maybe it is the angst of waiting that compelled us to create fantasies of gifts, parties, feasts, and endless shopping during the season of Advent. It's hard to feel the absence of what you most desire when your mind is totally preoccupied otherwise.

When John the Baptist began preaching and baptizing in the wilderness, he was in the same state as we find ourselves at Advent.  The Messiah’s coming had been prophesied hundreds of years before. and the state of Israel was desperately in need of rescue from the oppressive Roman government.  It was a time much like our own.  John, however, insisted that those who wanted to be ready to meet Jesus should focus on preparing and making their paths straight. He said
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near. This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one calling in the wilderness, Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him (Matthew 3:1-2).
Clearly there are fulfilling spiritual tasks to focus on in Advent. Advent is not just about twiddling your thumbs, waiting on what you really want.  Advent calls you to active waiting.  You will not miss Advent if you prepare and make your paths straight. Traditionally these four weeks before Christmas were days of fasting up until the Christmas Feast to celebrate Christ's birth with great joy prepared for a hungry tummy, It's an extremely difficult season to fast these days. In fact, you probably need to eat a high protein diet to keep up with the physically demanding tasks such as putting up Christmas lights, increasing your social life by attending parties and all that shopping! 
However, you can prepare and make your paths straight by creating a quiet space just between you and your Lord each day of Advent.  You can read an Advent devotion, or simply sit in front of your Christmas tree and ponder the miracle of your salvation.

Copyright © 2016.  Deborah R Newman  All Rights Reserved.


Popular posts from this blog

Moving Forward

It’s been half a decade since my husband of 27.5 years died suddenly of a brain bleed.  My life turned upside down that weekend, and nothing will ever be the same.  Someone commented to me that I had moved-on.  It was meant to be a compliment, and I totally get the affirmation that was intended.  The truth is I have not moved-on, nor do I ever expect that I will.  I love this quote sent to me in a sympathy card and have shared it over and over with others.  St Bernard of Clairvaux wrote: I can never lose one whom I have loved unto the end; one to whom my soul cleaves so firmly that it can never be separated does not go away but only goes before.               Grief should have a beginning, middle and end; that is true.  That first year or two I would have done anything to diminish my pain.  I was in so much pain that I wasn’t even a person.  It’s hard to believe that we humans will naturally grow more comfortable existing in our pit of despair of grief than to let it go…

Thank You Dad

Recently I have been contemplating why it is ingrained in me that I must be quiet and respectful and look at the flag when the national anthem is played.  It’s as natural for me as standing for the Hallelujah Chorus during Handel’s Messiah or for the Bride when she walks through the back door.  Like a Pavlov dog, my instincts go into action, and I do not even think about my somewhat conditioned response. Why?  It was definitely my own father who had the most influence over me regarding the national anthem.  I am not a sports enthusiast.  However, from a young age I found myself at sports games because my older brother played every sport offered.  Our family faithfully attended those games, which normally started with the national anthem.  I found a way to enjoy the otherwise agonizing experience of being held prisoner to my brother’s sporting events by gravitating to my friends who were there under duress as well.  We made up games of our own; we would laugh and talk throughout the q…

Waiting on Lila

On the first day of Advent I awoke to a call at 3:20 am that I should come to the hospital because my daughter was being taken down to deliver Lila—my first grandchild!  I had been first alerted to her early arrival two days before when Rachel's water broke, but not much labor. I arrived in Birmingham seven and a half hours later (it would have been sooner but there wasn’t a direct flight!). And then...we waited. We waited on Lila’s lungs to respond to a couple of steroid shots (she was three weeks early). As we waited, we halfway watched football and occasionally made small talk about subjects other than Lila’s birth; but mainly we carried on just wishing, wondering and thinking we could plan for the time that Lila would arrive based on the medical advice we were given.  All we could think about was what we were waiting for, our baby girl to come into the world.

While waiting on Lila, a code blue was called to her room; then the number was changed to the room next door. We Gran…