Wednesday, December 23, 2009

O Come, O Come or "Yeah, yeah, patience. How long's that gonna take?"

My husband and our three wild ones enjoy a CD from Dr. Demento, (crazy, right?) which has on it a little spoken word ditty about a sensei teaching a new student how to fight. The student is ready to start "hitting people" and the sensei says the student must learn patience. The student responds "yeah, yeah, patience. How long's that gonna take?" My wild ones find this hilarious.

They sense the irony without knowing what irony is. They know that as they wait for Christmas and the promise of presents, patience is hard. Waiting sucks.

At the start of Advent, I had a plan. A glorious plan indeed. We were going to be deliberate this year. We would read our Advent readings nightly, and light the candles in our wreath and pray and think and be still. We would avoid consumerism, the holiday rush, the frenzy of parties and activities.

Trouble is, I'm not in charge of assigning homework, scheduling basketball and soccer games, friends' birthday parties, choir concerts, church and work activities. And my plan fell to scattered pieces. Christmas morning is almost here and I've barely cracked open the devotional a friend gave us. The kids, though diligent in their attentions to the Advent Calendar, still have dreams of what's under the tree. And I, I am filled with a sense of failure.
I did not stay true. I let it get away from me. I did not sit still and wait. I bowed to the almighty calendar instead of the Almighty King. That is, after all, what Advent is. Preparing our hearts to celebrate the coming King.

The truth is, I'm not all the good at waiting. I don't like it. It's not fun if I can't be in control. Usually, when I'm waiting, I want to make a decision, or a plan, or find a solution. I want to do anything to make the waiting stop. Some of you are rather adept at this whole waiting thing. I asked you via Twitter and Facebook, what you do while waiting. Your answers inspired me. Many of you read, tinker, knit, or write. Most of your answers had this delightful sense of peace about them, as if you took the waiting as part of the journey and settled in for it.

I must have missed the memo on this, because when I wait I whine, I cajole, I text, I call, I facebook, I twitter, I email, I search for new projects despite the unfinished ones. All of my answers point to a restlessness, an inability to sit still, to let if flow, to enjoy the wait. Essentially, I make the wait one big drama with me in the center. Who knew?

Which brings me back to how I failed at Advent. I'm not really talking about daily countdown, a simple ticking off of hours and minutes until the next big thing. I'm talking about the kind of waiting that takes as long as it takes and looks a lot like living life on purpose, for a purpose, with an eye to the real Next Big Thing.

Good news, though. It's not too late for me to prepare this wayward heart for Christmas morning, and all the mornings after it. It starts now, with a clearing of space in my head for what matters, and a decided shoving aside of all the stuff that doesn't. I imagine my diligence will falter; I am, after all, easily distracted by the loud alarm of life and its demands. And again I will find my way back to a quiet, waiting space.


  1. I can totally relate to this, and I only have myself to distract, over-schedule, or just "forget" to take the time. I too had a book of Advent readings that I intended to read each morning. That lasted about a week. Sigh. But you are also right that it is not too late. That is the good news about grace is'nt it? Thanks for sharing your heart.

  2. Lorna, it's always reassuring to hear that others experience similar emotions. Makes me feel a tad more normal. And it ended up being a delightful Christmas day. We were snowed in and had time to be quiet and lounge about and just be.