Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Advent Meditation: The Waiting

photo by brett jordan / flickr
Looking back I think one of the hardest parts was the waiting. Waiting for the baby. Well, that's the Daddy-to-be talking. Maybe for the Mama-to-be the hardest part was the nauseating morning sickness. The smell of even the precious coffee you could not take. Maybe the welling in your stomach. The soreness in your breasts. What does a Daddy-to-be really know?

Boy or girl--then we did not know. Would everything be all right--then we did not know. But the waiting--the incessant waiting. Women seem to do the waiting better. The Daddies-to-be well, not so. Waiting was not in our job description.

From that old promise that went all the way back to who was it? Abraham. "I will make you a great nation..." Or old Moses, with thinning hair standing on the edge of what-he-could-only-see. Over there--over there--it would happen. Or maybe King David or his pathetic son Solomon. They too waited. And we could add dear old Isaiah with his misty-eyed promise: "Comfort ye...comfort ye...every valley shall be exalted and every hill be made low." And so they waited before the Exile they feared and the Exile they endured--and the heart-breaking return to a crumbling land. Yet they waited.

And Mary waited. And Elizabeth. And poor, wondering Joseph. And mad kings that thought the waiting was over. Well, not quite. And the Shepherds with their less-than-minimum-wage--and the three kings with their stocks and bonds. They waited too.

And then when the waiting was over--how strange it ended. In a cow stable with a hole in the roof and steaming dung--everywhere. And dirt-poor and with no-room-in-the-inn--he came. The tiny fingers and little toes. Reaching for his mother's breast. No power there. Only a wisp of a child that might just end up like all the others. Probably never a King with stocks and bonds. Hopefully not a Shepherd with no minimum wage. Maybelike his father a carpenter. 

And so Mary and Joseph waited and the book is silent during all those waiting-growing-up years. And then one day he, like us, struggled with his own demons. He, like us ate and ached and longed--and lusted? Surely not. He wasn't anything like he was supposed to be--what valleys and hills would be exalted--and what crooked paths would be made straight?

He toppled no kings. He led no revolutions. He did not cure all the diseases. He did not make everything great. And it all ended--it seemed on a hill far away when his Mother wept and wondered was this what all the waiting brought?

We still wonder--don't we. We have hung our wreaths and put up the Christmas tree and hauled all the dusty ornaments from the attic. We've looked over the Christmas card list. And, of course, the women folk wonder about the food and the beds and a less-cluttered house.

And yet--as gloomy as this Christmas seems to so many of us--we still wait. For the wolf to lie down with the lamb and the leopard to lie down with the kid. We wait for everyone to sit under his own fig tree and study war no more. We wait for peace on earth and goodwill to all. All? All. We wait.

And so once again like all those through the ages--we wait. He will not come as we expected. He will do not do our bidding. He will, like always, be at the heart of it all--but in  his own way. Quiet. Silent. Whispering...whispering "I will be with you."

And one day the waiting is over. And the baby comes. And all is so different than we imagined. But better--far, far better than anything we could even dream in the waiting.

photo by GP Witteveen/ flickr

--Roger Lovette / rogerlovette.blogspot.com

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