Advent never meant anything to me until this year. November 30th was nothing more than an ordinary day to be muddled through and crossed off. The December days leading up to Christmas were festive and fun, but their meaning ended with a ribbon tied around a final wrapped gift and the last “Fa La La La La” playing through my car’s radio.
This year is different. This year, I observe Advent.
Advent snuck up on me quietly and took me by surprise. I wasn’t planning on observing it. This December would be as stressful and rushed as the last six months. Except, I heard a quiet voice whispering to me, “Don’t be afraid,” and “Wait,” and what are these but words for Advent?
I’m going to try this. I’m going to try writing a blog post for every day of Advent. I wasn’t planning on doing this until I sat down at my computer this afternoon and read a blog post written by another writer who did the same thing. I love the idea. I want to try it. I wasn’t planning on trying it, but I am now. I wasn’t planning on being a Christian either, but here I am.
That’s why I never observed Advent in the past. Pinpointing the exact moment of my conversion is impossible. Christ speaks to us continuously throughout our lives, sometimes as loud as a megaphone, other times as softly as the wind rustling the leaves outside my window. My conversion was so subtle and nuanced I hardly realized it happening.
But it did happen, and because it happened, I want to observe Advent.
Which is ridiculous, really, because what is Advent but waiting? And what do I hate more than waiting? I’ll do anything to avoid waiting. I leave for work at odd hours of the day to avoid traffic jams. I bring a book everywhere I go in case I have even a few minutes of down time. I purposely leave late for appointments and parties so I don’t have to wait around for other people to show up. And still, I feel like I’m always waiting. I’m waiting to hear about job prospects, to hear from editors, to hear words from friends, to hear from God. I hate waiting. Waiting feels like a waste of time.
But it can’t be. Advent is about waiting, so it can’t be a waste of time.
When we wait, our attention is directed toward the object of our desire, what we want to happen, but hasn’t happened yet. As we wait, we contemplate the object of our desire. Our understanding of it and our longing for it grows, so when it comes, when it happens, we are filled with an even greater joy than if we’d gotten it immediately.
Still, I’m scared of waiting because I fear if I wait too long what I’m waiting for will never come. I think I must do something, anything, to get what I want before it’s too late. But the quiet voice couples the word, “Wait,” with the admonition, “Don’t be afraid.” It’s a reminder that we don’t have to be afraid of losing out when we wait. Waiting is good. God never has us wait without reason. The object of our desire will come in time. We don’t need to rush. In these Advent words, we can rest.