“There is nothing restful about Advent yearning.”
(Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Art of Waiting, Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C.)
I find myself waiting for a lot of things. Waiting for packages to arrive in the mail, waiting for conversations to occur, waiting for the end of the semester, or just waiting for something new to happen. Advent is filled to the brim with waiting.
We can often paint Advent as this oh-so-pleasant and peaceful time of waiting for Christmas. And, in a way, it is. It should be a time of peace and eager preparations. However, ask any pregnant woman, engaged couple, or person awaiting medical tests and they will tell you that waiting can be a time of difficult longing. There is a tension found in the waiting and, while not necessarily a bad thing, it isn’t always pleasant.
Every year, our preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ also focuses on His Second Coming. And it causes me to see, with partial blindness, where I am and where I need to be. It is difficult to not get overly frustrated with myself in the midst of my weakness. Heaven knows how I want to be perfect, but Heaven knows even more acutely how far from the mark I land. Though it may seem like endless days stretch out before us, we are daily drawing nearer to the end. We do not know how much time is left, and Advent reminds us that it is our constant duty to be prepared for the coming of Jesus Christ.
Advent is a time of waiting. Yet since this waiting is done with the knowledge that Christ will come again, it is a time of personal reformation. It is not a time to be idle. It is a time of hurrying and rushing to be prepared for the end of everything as we know it. I often find myself praying for the end to come soon, but also telling the Lord to not make it too soon because there is so much work to be done in me.
This is a time of emptying. Of stripping the worldly desires from our hearts and making total room for the King. It is an expectant waiting with empty hearts, eager to be filled.
“This is always at the heart of Advent: that we are urged on, that we are hurrying, rising up, casting off darkness….It is quite a painful process to empty out a heart of earthly desires. The more interior the desire, the more difficult and painful it is to remove it. But the Church tells us in her very realistic way that it is only hearts that are emptied of worldliness, of earth’s fleeting desires, that God can inflame with his love. Empty out your hearts; turn them upside down; pour out all these things so that the liquid love of God can flow into them.” (Come, Lord Jesus)