Advent is a season when we look forward, we wait, we hope. It is also an invitation to put aside more quality time for prayer, solitude and reflection. It is a time for us to connect with our deepest hopes, desires and even our fears.
Waiting seems so foreign to us. We have got so accustomed to the fast pace, the instant mentality that everything should happen now and in our lifetime. The daily comforts of instant coffee, microwave meals and electronic banking models for us a quick-fix mentality.
Advent calls us to wait. Waiting is not easy. We complain and get agitated whenever we stand in long lines whether it is in the post office, the grocery or at the airport. Yet, wait we must! If we are to benefit from this season of Advent we must intentionally rethink the way we use our time. Our waiting at checkout counters need not be in vain it we use these precious moments to ponder, to reflect and to place ourselves in God’s presence as timelessness enters time.
Quite recently, driving along a street in Port of Spain I felt a desire to thank God for everything – for the many things I sometimes take for granted. Lord, thank you for everything! Then I felt I could have done better and list exactly what I was thankful for. The litany started and is still continuing today. There is so much to be thankful for!
One thing we can try as we wait is not only to develop an attitude of gratitude, but of being conscious to the present moment. So many times we miss out on a precious moment God sends us to connect with each other, a shared laugh, being with the one who mourns a loved one, sharing in the happiness of a job well done or simply being there for a mother who waits anxiously each day for news of her sick child.
And yet during Advent it is so easy to get caught up with the glitter, the lights and the materialism of the season. Daily, hourly and practically each minute we are bombarded with sales, discounts, offers of easy payment loans and hire purchase. The invitations to gatherings, the time spent looking for unique gifts for loves ones could deter us from the special meaning of Advent – preparing for the Divine coming to us in living flesh.
Advent speaks especially to us as catechists. Our role as mediators of the faith challenges us to do just what Advent is about, preparation, waiting, longing. We long to see the fruit of our work but God’s spirit works in God’s time. We do our part to the best of our ability and God continues the work.
As we continue our Advent journey, I pray that we may recognise God present in us and in all people. God is already with us. God is present in those we love and in those we care less for; in the psychologically unbalanced and in the drug addicts that roam our streets. As we actively listen, what is God saying to us this Advent?
In closing, I quote from Dom Helder Camara…
do not smile and say you are already with us.
Millions do not know you and to us who do
what is the difference?
What is the point of your presence
if our lives do not alter?
Change our lives.
Shatter our complacency.
Make your word our life’s purpose.
Take away the quietness
of a clear conscience.
Press us uncomfortably.
For only thus
that other peace is made, Your peace.
Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus. – Sr Juliet Rajah