Column: How Do We Wait, For Christmas?

By Kate Noonan

There are a multitude of ways to wait. We are told to wait patiently, wait our turn and good things come to those who wait. In our little quadrant of the gold coast I dare say many of us may rank low on the patience scale. Waiting may not be our strong point. Perhaps the phrases, I want it done yesterday, early acceptance, or overnight delivery are truer depictions of our modus operandi.

Can we reconcile these diametrically opposed ways of being? There is the part of me that yearns for spiritual grounding and a tangible connection with my higher power. There is also the very human aspect of me which thinks if I can just purchase the most clever gifts, at the perfect store, at the best price point I’ve gotten it right. Voila, my check list is complete and I conquered the season.

As I think back to scripture I cannot recall a time where it reads: “The right gifts under the Christmas tree will get you into heaven” or “The kingdom of heaven is open to those who exhaust themselves in preparation to celebrate my birth.”

Each week at Sunday mass, just after we pray the Our Father, the priest says: Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

And each week this petition truly grabs my attention. It is a salve for my being. I am anxious. I am worried I missed the mark. This petition reframes my intention and focus. It is as though the priest is gently saying: daughter, leave everything that is heavy behind and wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior. This is the call of Adent as well: wait in joyful hope.

Waiting well is a skill and waiting in joyful hope is an inspired way of being. Joyful waiting requires a faith that believes all manner of things shall be well. Our faith tells us we have already received the gift of our Savior. Make this Advent a time to stop being so easily pulled into the temptations of the world and savor the preparations for the season.

As we hone our waiting skills an interesting thing happens, we begin to forget about ourselves. We learn to be in the moment. We begin to think about others leaving our plans and designs aside. There are true miracles which come with blessed waiting as we permit space for divine inspiration to truly enter our minds and our hearts.

As we wait for Christmas to arrive while still caught in the ways of the world I offer you the inspirational words of Henry Nowen’s Advent prayer:

Lord Jesus,
Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do and seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day,
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!’

Kate Noonan is Pastoral Associate at St. Ignatius Loyola NYC, and Spiritual Life Coach in Greenwich, CT

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