"Will this red light ever turn green??"
"Why is the clerk moving so slow to check if this Christmas gift is in stock?"
"Why am I being kept on hold forever?"
"Why is my daughter not waiting for me at school when she called to tell me she was ready to go?"
Yes, these are the uncharitable thoughts I have on a somewhat regular basis as I wait to shop, to drive, to be helped, to pick up...patience doesn't tend to be my strongest character trait. I am actively working to change this quality. But until my new habits are formed, thoughts like these are a constant reminder of how much I hate to wait.
I actually think many of us feel this way. If we stopped to analyze the reason, we would probably all come up with a variation of the same issue. Our lives are jam-packed...with errands, social commitments, work, housekeeping, tight schedules, noise...how will we ever find time to be patient?
I was reminded of the need to slow down and be patient at church yesterday as we celebrated the first Sunday of Advent. The word Advent is derived from the Latin word "adventus" meaning "coming." In these four weeks before Christmas, we wait, patiently and watchfully, readying ourselves physically and spiritually for the coming of Christ. In fact, the gospel reading yesterday from Mark began with these words:
"Jesus said to his disciples:
'Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come."
We are the gatekeepers mentioned in this Gospel...the ones who are able to lovingly give to others, who may not know to watch and wait, a taste of what it is like to live mindfully of those words. Our careful, loving actions can prove that we are vigilant since our deeds define us each moment, not just the moments immediately before Christmas.
I think to myself that I can spread the joy of Christmas by being giving...being quiet...being gracious...being patient. I can laugh with another person waiting in line at Michaels (sorry, but they never have enough cashiers...I'm just sayin'); let someone pull ahead of me while driving (side note: I had just written this blog entry, went to pick up my son from school and DIDN'T let a guy pull out in front of me...come on, Cynth, follow your own advice, would ya'?); be kind to telephone attendants during this very busy time of year; most importantly, shore up my family members and friends with the spirit of generosity that awaits me as my Lord comes again. In this way, the ripples will spread from my family outward and we will include others in echoing Mark's message of preparedness:
"What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!"
With these thoughts and words in mind, I'll prayerfully work this Advent season to keep my eyes more on the coming of Christ and less on the ticking of the clock...or the changing of the light...or the moving of the line...or the...or the...or the...