Advent and the Waiting

Upon thinking of Advent, the first thing that leaped into my brain was this song by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers:

Every day you get one more yard
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part

Every Advent, we are waiting for the return of Christ as an infant. Every day, we are waiting for something, and we know that many of the things we are waiting for and praying for and hoping for will not come to fruition, but we wait anyway.

What is life but a big waiting room? In a way, we’re all metaphorically sitting in the DMV office waiting for our number to be called. Of course, there are times when it’s less mind-numbingly boring than that, but what it comes down to is that the waiting never truly ends until we die and reach the final judgment.

Many times, the pain of waiting comes from not knowing when the waiting will end. It does little good to wait for your own death because few of us know the exact day it will happen. Waiting for the end of a semester, the end of a job, or the end of an event is easier because we can count down the days.

How do you ease the pain of waiting? Perhaps prayer may work for some. Maybe it’s taking your mind off the wait by focusing on something else. Maybe it’s by doing everything in your power to shorten the wait.

Finding the joy in waiting is difficult, especially when what we might be waiting for isn’t particularly happy or exciting. In that case, you might be waiting for the unhappy event to be over.

Fortunately, in Advent, we know what we’re waiting for and we know the day and the hour. We know how many days we have to scramble and get ready for one of the holiest events of the year. We have a general sense, based on tradition, of what will happen during that day. But we don’t know the precise details, and it’s in those precise details that the joy comes through—those tiny memories we make that stick with us over time and become the subject of joyful stories for years to come.

Happy Advent!