There are some things which can never be prepared for, no matter how much anticipated and expected they are. Certain life events carry with them a touch of the sacred, a deep sense of the transcendent, and even when we expect them, we still find ourselves caught short. It is part of the joy of life to be surprised on the one hand, or pushed into places of wonder by the unexpected. The essence of waiting is found here: conceived in expectation, but born of something qualitatively different.
But such waiting is a two-edged sword: who has not felt let down by a movie or book which came “highly recommended” by a friend? Our hearts have been pointed in one direction only to find both journey and destination to be a let down. And there are moments deeply etched in our lives which have surprised us by their intensity- in either their ecstasy or their malevolence.
In this Advent season we are reminded of the value of waiting born of hope and expectation. While Advent culminates in the celebration of Christmas it also points to a deeper more lasting truth: the call to expect God’s coming into the midst of our lives. Our waiting is not merely for the birth of Christ, but for his coming afresh into our midst.
Waiting is born of mystery, it has its roots in mystery. And it comes to us in the middle of the ordinary moments of life. When I look back on great moments of history in my lifetime: landing on the moon, Challenger Shuttle disaster, Port Arthur, Princess Diana’s death – I can well recall the place and circumstances under which each of them touched me – and they were ordinary moments indeed. Significant acts and events unfold in the ordinary moments.
When Jesus talks of his return, it is littered with tales of the ordinary: two men walking in a field; two women grinding at the mill. They are modern equivalents of driving the car or sharing a barbecue. As you ponder the Christmas story, ask yourself what Mary was doing at the time the angel appeared to announce her pregnancy, what Zechariah was doing when he was informed he would become a father, what Joseph was doing when he discovered the truth about Mary’s pregnancy. They were all mundane daily moments, made special because they were attuned to God’s presence.
God has a habit of breaking into the ordinary moments of life and touching them with the tinge of eternity. We are called to be alert to His presence, alert to His coming. Advent’s call to us at the beginning of the liturgical year resonates through every day: expect to meet God in the ordinary moments of life.
December 2, 2007