Advent Spiritual Life Suggestions: Week Two

Waiting is one of the most difficult spiritual tasks most of us face. We want what we want when we want it. The earliest Christians faced a similar situation. They had expected Jesus to return in glory during their own lifetimes. When he didn’t, the Church had to consider what it meant to “wait on the Lord.”

IMG_2400Out of that experience came several learnings. First, while we wait it is important to tend to daily business in an orderly fashion: clean the house, earn our living, bring up our children, exercise civic responsibility. No lying around, waiting for Jesus as an excuse. Common sense! So Advent might be a time to consider our daily routines, tighten things up a bit, readjust and reorder. Second, the early Church stressed the value of mutual support and encouragement: people were urged to reach out to their sisters and brothers who might be discouraged or feel defeated. Again, this is something we can put into practice in our own daily lives. The secular “pre-Christmas” season tends to get focused on self, or on a generalized busyness. Maybe instead of a party for 50 of your best friends, you might have supper or just a cup of coffee with one person whom you sense could use your support and encouragement. (Support and encouragement don’t necessarily mean “advice”; just your loving presence is what’s needed, unless someone asks for more.)

But beyond these practical spiritual disciplines, this is a season to cultivate the deeper discipline of simply waiting — letting go of all our wantings and impatience. God has God’s own time; our contentment comes from slowing down and adjusting our pace to God’s. If you’ve ever spent retreat time in a monastic community, you will have experienced how time slows down and life simplifies. The result is not boredom (once you get used to it), but peace. Advent is a time to reach for that sense of peace that comes from simply learning to wait.

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