Advent is upon us. Advent, for those unfamiliar with the term means “coming” and is used to describe the time between now and Christmas. It is the time in which we wait and prepare to remember the coming of Christ that happened so long ago and longingly anticipate His return. I began to really pay attention to Advent a number of years ago now and admit that with each passing year this season has become more and more challenging for me. Though deeply rooted in me is a desire to give gifts, I struggle with the consumerism of the season. I hate how busy the month of December becomes. Most of all though, a very large spotlight appears over the darkness of both my own heart and the state of the world. It feels as though I cannot wait for things to be made right.
I’m having to learn the art of waiting. Not the fidgety, exasperated kind of waiting, but the kind that is patient and still. I’m having to choose to buy less, slow down the pace and allow myself to be changed. Very slowly, the layers of guilt, shame, loneliness and ill-desire are being stripped away from my heart. My eyes become even more alerted to the terrible pain and suffering of this world: of men and women and children caught in the sex trade and of those who control them; of bombs being detonated over cities, villages and towns; of polluted water that cannot quench the thirst of those around it, of the awful disparity between those who are rich and those who are poor. As my eyes open, so does the desire to do what I can: pray, love well, build community, look for glimpses of hope, weep with those who are weeping and receive the care and love of others toward me.
Years ago I found myself completely overwhelmed the week before Christmas. My husband was having a terrible Multiple Sclerosis attack, my mother was trying to recover from brain surgery in hospital, my daughter was small and needing me and all of a sudden we HAD NO WATER. I turned on the tap one morning and nothing came out. Nothing came out for over a week. The worst part really was that nobody seemed to be able to help- the City of Toronto told us to call a plumber while the plumber told us to call the City. Finally somebody from the City told me candidly that we needed to have a pipe replaced from the sidewalk to the house, an issue requiring getting on a waiting list (a list we’d actually been on for years) and that until our name came up we were out of luck. I got off the phone, locked myself in the bathroom and lost it.
It wasn’t pretty. Through the flood of tears I finally said, “God, there is absolutely nothing I can do. You HAVE to do something”. I was wailing so hard that I almost missed the ring of the doorbell. Standing outside my door was a lanky worker from the city. He said, “I found your problem. Stuck my shovel in the snowbank by the sidewalk and water flooded out. I’ve got a crew on the way”. Friends, I felt like I met Jesus in the form of a water guy.
This Advent I am waiting for the water guy to show up. I want to cut through the various obligations of Christmas and be reminded that I need to remember He is, in fact, coming.