As I mentioned a year ago at about this time (go figure, eh?), waiting isn't exactly most people's strong point. We are a society that isn't particularly conditioned to wait for much of anything, except usually, for whatever the waiting is, to be over.
Each Sunday in Advent has a different variation on the theme of waiting. As if waiting wasn't hard enough on its own merits, the theme of this first week is waiting with hope.
Hope. WAITING with hope. Looking around at the world today, if we wait with anything, it sure isn't hope. In fact, it's the opposite of hope. We wait with fear.
Over the years we have been increasingly pummeled with the specter of fear. There are monsters under the bed, people who want to hurt us, stranger danger, amber alerts, check your Halloween candy, the sky is falling, 2012 is around the corner and Nostradamus is waiting with a big I told you so. When we wait with fear, we wait both defensively and aggressively. We protect, fortify, and build barriers to protect, but we also arm ourselves to strike at whomever for whatever. Fear whispers and we scream. The worst is always just around the corner, and it is coming for US. Fear moves us and motivates us by the never-ending nagging what if.
But what exactly is waiting with hope? Does it mean we hope something good might happen? It seems if we are simply waiting for the possibility that something good might happen, it seems we have already lost. There are too many conditional statements. Too many chances to fail. Too many opportunities for fear to rush back in and say if only you had done it differently...
Waiting with hope is a very tall order, and unlike the song, it's not where you finish, it's where you start. It's being ready, willing, open and accepting from the get-go. It means leaving our self-made barriers and being open for the good we know is to come.
Waiting with fear means waiting for things we've been told might come.
Waiting with hope means waiting for things we know will come,
and then recognizing it when it does.
I hope I get it right.
Henri Nouwen used to speak of choosing whether to live "in the house of fear" or in "the house of love". I think you've got it right, my friend. Thanks for the Monday morning uplift!
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