Personal Reflection: Advent: A call to patience, active waiting

By Sister Margie Lavonis, CSC
Guest Columnist

When I was a campus minister at St. Mary Student Parish at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, I heard something in an Advent homily that always comes back to me during this time of the church year. The homilist shared something he was doing for Advent to help him appreciate the true meaning of the season. In Advent he would slow down and stop at every yellow light and wait patiently for it to turn green. This little exercise would hopefully remind him of the people of God who waited so long for the Messiah to come and save them.
Advent is always a good time to reflect upon the virtue of patience and how much we need to exercise it in our often hectic life.
Like many people in our society, waiting does not come naturally to most of us. Our culture promotes instant results. We want to lose 10 pounds in 10 days! We often gobble down our meals or eat on the run. (Just look at the drive-through windows at the fast food restaurants around meal time). We take medicines that promise quick relief from whatever ails us and look for the express check out lanes in the grocery store. We upgrade our computers so they go faster and faster. Slow traffic and slow people tend to frustrate us. Often we do not get our prayers answered on our time schedule. It boils down to the fact that many of us just do not like to wait for anything or anybody. We want to see results right away and usually on our terms.
For Catholics, Advent affords us the opportunity to exercise the virtue of patience. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of this often-frenetic pre-Christmas time, the church gives us the opportunity to slow down and to reflect upon the true meaning of the season. We celebrate the coming of Jesus at his birth and the fact that he will come again, but we also celebrate the many ways he comes to us daily in our lives. Like the Hebrew people, it takes patient waiting and a quiet spirit to discover God’s presence in our daily lives. Now, more than ever, we need to seek out those quiet times when we can calm down and reflect upon God’s activity in ourselves and in our world. 
When we are constantly in a hurry we miss the beauty of nature or the twinkle in the eye of a child. When we rush from one activity to another, we often do not see the people around us who silently cry out for our attention. When we are too busy to pray or just to be with the Lord, we miss the deep peace and sense of security and trust that comes with a close relationship with our God.
Yes, Christmas is coming but God is here with us every day. Let us try to slow down so we can recognize the One who loves and saves us. Say a little prayer the next time you wait for the light to turn green or wait in a long line while shopping for Christmas. Use the precious time to remind you of the gift of life in Jesus that God has given to each of us. Hopefully it will become a habit.
Find ways during this time before Christmas to get to know Jesus better. Slow down, look around and recognize him in the people and events of your life. You may even find him in the shopping mall with Santa Claus.

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