Hurry Up and Wait!

By Taxidermized (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s the first week of Advent.  I am assured it began yesterday. In classic form, I forgot about it while being distracted by Thanksgiving.  Sort of an irony there. THAT is going to require serious contemplation.  By sheerest coincidence, my choice of shrine this week is appropriate. It is a reliquary for a married couple with their child. I’ll get back to that in a minute.

Advent is a curious holiday which celebrates the art of waiting. Yes, you read correctly.  Advent is about standing in line with that pile Christmas gifts for other people, getting bored and annoyed with that squalling infant three persons behind you. It’s about waiting in line for the TSA to get through inspecting you for malfeasance. It’s about wandering blindly in the desert waiting for God to say something, not quite sure if that light in the distance is really a figment of your overheated brain.  It is a celebration of a time when you’d desperately wish that something… anything would happen NOW, and it doesn’t. Not yet, anyway.

In reality, it’s about the art of waiting well. That is, tolerating all of the above, and still being alert, still being awake, and stubbornly refusing to believe the evidence of your senses that are screaming that all this is simply not worth it.  This is what we mean by faith.

Faith is knowing that the light in your child’s eyes is worth being potentially stampeded by angry soccer moms during Black Friday. Faith is about inviting dubious Uncle Dave to Christmas,  even if he might try to steal the silver again this year. It’s about the prophets staring at seemingly endless slavery, insolence, famine, and loss, yet looking to God for Truth and Love.

381px-Cheselden_t36_prayer

It’s about repenting anyway, even if it’s humiliating, painful and inconvenient and aunt Delilah’s cancer probably won’t get cured.  It is about believing that Christ will rise, even if he hung from the Cross.  It’s about knowing that sweet babe will grow into a Savior of all Mankind, that we can have true God and true Man graced in swaddling clothes.

It’s all about what you can’t see, versus what you can see, and knowing the former to be the herald of Truth.

So what does all this say about a little family all buried in the same coffin, only to be placed on display in some cathedral or other?  Well, they, too are waiting for God– at least to our eyes.  The grave looks so final, so cold and devouring.

On top of that, marriage of old, as it used to be practiced, looks foolhardy and dangerous. Who’d risk bringing a child into this world? Why swear your whole life to someone who might probably betray you? Why risk ruining a perfect package from beyond with the tarnishments of a harsh world and worse, our own flaws?

In reality, this coffin is a gateway to eternity.  In reality the two become one flesh, and are entrusted with a child of God given to them for a purpose.  The risks are great, but the goodness is greater and more powerful. You just have to keep scanning the horizon, looking to the light.  They called them Wise Men for a reason.

Piero del Pollaiolo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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