My husband Andy and I flew to Seattle yesterday to spend Christmas with our son and two and a half year-old granddaughter. The trip was supposed to take 7 hours; it took 11 1/2 hours. Because of weird weather and missed connections, we spent hours waiting in airports. Though not normally patient people, we knew holiday travel snafus were a possibility, so we planned some waiting activities–a NY Times crossword puzzle, copies of Time Magazine and the New Yorker, a nice meal in a decent airport restaurant, walks around A, B, C, D, and E terminals….
As I was waiting I also read an Advent meditation called Waiting for God by Henri Nouwen from the book Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas. A couple of excerpts mirror our experience from yesterday:
“The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us….Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there.”
Nouwen suggests that Mary and Elizabeth in their pregnancies formed a community of active waiting.
“They affirmed for each other that something was happening that was worth waiting for…..This is what prayer is all about. It is coming together around the promise. This is what celebration is all about. It is lifting up what is already there.“
This “lifting up what is already there” is why I need a regular worshiping community and a group of friends with whom I gather in hope, promise and celebration rather than in my default mode of cynicism and fear. I was grateful to have a partner, a mini-community in the airport experience of waiting.
Paraclete Press asked its authors to create a two-minute video on “What Advent Means to Me.” I include it here, not because I think it’s good, but because it embarrasses me to watch it. I wanted it to be more playful, more dancy, less intense, less inhibited, more articulate, more polished…. But if I waited to capture that perfect performance I would never risk doing it at all. Like my Advent waiting, this video is active, but imperfect. Click on the picture to view the video.