Waiting patiently in expectation
is the foundation of the spiritual life.
Simone Weil, French philosopher & mystic (1909-1943)
I always go back to these three brief reflections by Henri Nouwen on waiting:
Waiting is essential to the spiritual life. But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting. It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for. We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus. We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory. We are always waiting, but it is a waiting in the convicition that we have already seen God's footsteps.
Waiting for God is an active, alert - yes, joyful - waiting. As we wait we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes.
Waiting With Patience
How do we wait for God? We wait with patience. But patience does not mean passivity. Waiting patiently is not like waiting for the bus to come, the rain to stop, or the sun to rise. It is an active waiting in which we live the present moment to the full in order to find there the signs of the One we are waiting for.
The word patience come from the Latin verb patior, which means to suffer. Waiting patiently is suffering through the present moment, tasting it to the full, and letting the seeds that are sown in the ground on which we stand grow into strong plants. Waiting patiently always means paying attention to what is happening right before our eyes and seeing there the first rays of God's glorious coming.
Waiting In Expectation
Waiting patiently for God includes joyful expectation. Without expectation our waiting can get bogged down in the present. When we wait in expectation our whole beings are open to be surprised by joy.
All through the Gospels Jesus tells us to keep awake and stay alert. And Paul says, Brothers and sisters... the moment is here for your to stop sleeping and wake up, because by now our slavation is nearer than when we first began to believe. The night is nearly over, daylight is on the way; so let us throw off everything that belongs to the darkness and equip oursleves for the light (Romans 13:11-12). It is this joyful expecation of God's coming that offers vitality to our lives. The expectation of the fullfillment of God's promises to us is what allows us to pay full attention to the road on which we are walking.
From Bread For The Journey, November 19th-21st.