I spend some time each month with my spiritual midwife, Marjorie. I could write for days about the gifts that I’ve received from my time with her. As we sat together last week, she voiced a prayer of blessing over my life. The words that she chose captured the essence of the Advent waiting-days we are in right now. They were all familiar words that I’ve grown accustomed to both hearing and speaking during this season. But when I heard her say the word, “anticipation,” something inside of me sat up and took notice. I realized that my body and spirit felt heavy from my own season of waiting because I’d forgotten the importance of anticipation. That word anticipation jolted me into remembering that waiting is not passive. It reminded me that my faith binds waiting with anticipation. It’s a core belief that the Loving One is always creating something new and beautiful out of the broken and dying places in my life and in yours.
In an Advent prayer that Steve Garnaas-Holmes recently posted, he reminds us that in these days of waiting, anticipation grabs hold of us and prays, “awaken me to the losses that are blessings, the wounds that are openings, the weaknesses that are empty mangers.” Waiting and anticipation are central to this season of Advent. In the spiritual journey, we can’t have one without the other; they are conjoined. And if we try to separate them, like I had unknowingly done, then we get bogged down in the grief and frustration, which I had definitely done.
Waiting is not easy. It invites us to give up some of our control and our impulse to rush ahead. It teaches us that there are gifts to be discovered and lessons to be learned if we can summon the courage to be still and wait. Like Mary, we’re all pregnant with something – something beautiful and absolutely needed in our life and in the world. The waiting-days are essential; without them we risk missing the opportunity to bring something new to life. May the Spirit find us waiting with joyful anticipation this Advent.

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