Just before Christmas last year Fiona looked at the subject of waiting. We thought about Zechariah and Elizabeth, and Mary and Simeon and Anna. (see Luke 2.) We little knew then that we would all be facing a new experience of waiting due to the virus, a few months later.
Waiting is not popular. We like to be doing something, not sitting and waiting. It is like a desert between where we are and where we would like to be. People are afraid of the future and when we are afraid, we want to get away from where we are.
Luke 2 talks about people who were waiting for something new and good to happen. In the Gospel, those who are waiting are waiting actively. Active waiting means to be present to the moment, in the conviction that something will happen. A waiting person is a patient person. Patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live in the situation to the full belief that something will manifest itself. Impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and therefore want to go elsewhere. Patient people dare to stay where they are.
Waiting is open-ended. It is hard for us because we are waiting for something definite. Our waiting is filled with wishes. “I wish that the virus would go away; that I could meet with people again; that I could go back to work; that I could go on holiday….” – fill in your own biggest wish.
Because of this, a lot of out waiting is not open-ended. We want the future to go in a very specific direction, and if this does not happen, we are disappointed and even despairing.
The people in Luke 2 were not filled with wishes, but hope. Hope is trusting that something will be fulfilled. Hope is always open-ended.
To wait open-endedly is a radical attitude towards life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God have control over our thoughts and fears. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction.
Pray that we will become radical Christians in our attitude toward life in the present situation. Pray for those you know who are finding it hard to trust and to hope.