Don’t you feel bad when you make people wait?
I know I do. When I was in the parish, I would try my best (and with some sucess) to return e-mails, phone calls, and invitations as quickly as possible. With added responsibilities this year, it is sometimes difficult to respond promptly. This can cause frustration for people. We are impatient people. It doesn’t take long for us to lose our cool if things aren’t working efficiently. If there are many cars in front of me at Tim Horton’s at 6:30 A.M. (my breakfast on some days) it won’t be long until someone behind me bails out of line, frustratingly griping their steering wheel. No doubt, they will take out their slow-cooked rage on the car that is moving a little too slowly in traffic on the way to work.
Every year we grow more and more efficient, thanks to technology that responds to our deep want of “quickness”. Each year, we have a greater expectation that things will move ever more quickly. It is not that moving quickly is a bad thing. But sometimes it is not always the appropriate attitude for the occasion. When we lose the inability to take our time, to be patient, and to listen, then we put ourselves in real danger in the spiritual life.
This is especially true of discerning God’s call for your life. Many a seminarian has gone into formation already planning out the music for his first Mass. If the seminary faculty is doing a good job of adjusting the seminarian’s expectations, then by Christmastime, he knows that he is in for a long journey. My seminary experience lasted for 6 years. For many men in formation, it lasts for 8 years. (even more for some religious orders). It takes time to grow. It takes time to listen and recognize the voice of God.
We have been waiting 3 weeks now for Christmas to arrive, and now it is almost here! One more week until classes end; one more week until family and friends arrive; one more week until the excitement and enthusiasm of Christmas Mass; one more week until presents at the Christmas tree. It is almost here. I hope that, as we get to the Christmas season, and the start of a New Year, that we have learned from the Advent season the art of waiting. A lot of the Christian lifestyle involves waiting. Most of us aren’t very good at waiting. But God doesn’t move as quickly as we do. Or maybe God simply doesn’t move like us at all?
That is the insight of Advent – God’s ways aren’t our ways. As St. Peter’s letter states, “To God 1000 years is like a day.” To us who are impatient, that seems like bad news! However, we have to adjust ourselves to God’s plan. We need not to fit God into our boxes (as if the creature could fit his/her Creator into a box, what a dumb notion that is, when you think about it!).
Living God’s way means waiting for His arrival. Also, living God’s way means believing that when God actually arrives, that He will bring the best of gifts to us. To allow these desires to grow in our hearts helps us to become a people of patient hope and perseverence. This is the renewal of mind and heart that Advent brings to us. With Christmas’ arrival, may our patient waiting gain for us the peace of the Savior’s arrival.