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Advent Waiting – Br. Curtis Almquist

The name of this season of the Church year, Advent, comes from the Latin, adventus, which means “coming,” the coming, and the coming again of Christ. In the meantime, we wait. Waiting can be a great problem, especially in our own culture. The adjective “instant” shows up incessantly in the American vocabulary, and it is presumed. We were having a meeting this past week at our Cowley publishing house, and one of our professional staff members made the comment about our Cowley website that we have less than 5 seconds for the website to respond to an inquiry. The person at the other end of the Ethernet clicks “enter” or “search,” and our website (and presumably everyone else’s) has to produce in less than 5 seconds… or you just lost a customer. Waiting is un-American. It’s a repugnant virtue to cultivate.

For some of us, it may be more helpful this season to use another word rather than this counter-cultural word, “waiting”: incompleteness. How are you now incomplete?

  • Where you don’t “have it together?”
  • Where you don’t yet have the answers you think you need, or will eventually need?
  • Where some essential provision for your life is not yet within your grasp?
This incompleteness which you do not choose and cannot avoid may be a real grace this season.

Rather than to work on the virtue of waiting, you may find it helpful simply to acknowledge what’s missing in your soul: your longing desire; your desperate need; the questions where you don’t, yet, have answers. And then pray with an awareness that God knows what you do not know.

In the meantime you might find it helpful to seek from God a very essential spiritual gift which makes incompleteness bearable: hope. Hope is an expectant desire. Hope is an expectant desire that something will come, something change, something will be birthed within you or around you in the fullness of time, but not before. Hope is an expectant desire. Saint Paul writes, “For in hope we are saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:24-25 For some of us, the gift of hope may be very best Christmas gift this year, given everything that is incomplete. Hope is an expectant desire. Ask God for the gift of hope.

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3 Comments

  1. Margaret Dungan on December 16, 2013 at 21:08

    Thank you Fr.Curtis

    You have brought new life and light to the word hope.
    Margaret

  2. Cecily Merrell on December 16, 2013 at 16:28

    It seemed more than serendipitous that I read Curtis’ word about Hope this morning (Dec. 16, 2013), within the same hour that I read the section entitled “Hope in the Morning,” toward the end of Gerald May’s ” The Dark Night of the Soul.” In it he writes, “It is not hope for peace or justice or healing; that also would be attachment. It is just hope, naked hope, a bare energy of open expectancy.

    What a gift that you and May share your words with so many.

    Thank you, Cecily

  3. Anders on December 16, 2013 at 06:49

    Thanks for bringing up ” your longing desire; your desperate need” which I will further explore to experience this Advent. Maybe its just symantics, but waiting implies a short and unproductive short term, and hope can be seem like an unproductive long term often associated with keeping up with those Joneses. Longing implies stretching and growing a combination of both joy and pain into the outcome of the future. Blessed Advent!

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