Voices: A season of waiting and learning

By Rhina Guidos
Guest Columnist

Though it’s hard to peg down, some believe the Catholic Church began observing Advent in the fourth century. Since then, Advent has become increasing popular as some faithful observe with Advent wreaths or calendars, counting down to the moment of joy, of the birth, the new life, not just of our savior but essentially, of our faith.
Observing Advent, for those who really take the time, can teach us to slow down, to reflect during what is, for many, the busiest and most stressful time of the year. It can help us in our life-long advent, that waiting period until we are with God, the light.
I can’t help but think of the lyrics from George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord,” when the former Beatle sings about really wanting to see the Lord, but it seems to be taking “so long.”
I remember having that feeling when I was a child, when we stopped by the empty bed of straw in the Nativity scene of our parish. Each time we passed it and he wasn’t there, I remember that “I really want to see you” feeling.
Psalms 27:14 tell us to “Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord.”
When we’re children, it seems as if that waiting period will take forever. It can seem endless, too, to a mother or a father waiting for a child who lives far away, and who visits only during Christmas.
There’s something really beautiful about the wait, about the anticipation, and we shouldn’t let it go to waste. Perhaps we’re waiting, neither for presents, nor for the “magic” some of us find in the Christmas season, but for a moment of darkness or loneliness to pass, one that only the Lord can lift us out of. Maybe we’re waiting for the advent of the day when we’re able to defeat an addiction, with help from God, or when we’re able to get a better job, holding on solely to God during our moments of tribulation. We know the day will come when the pain will be over, if we wait with the Lord for the storm to pass.
“They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint,” says Isaiah 40:31.
Advent can teach us to wait for the light, in whatever form it comes.
Guidos is an editor at Catholic News Service.

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