Love in the Waiting

Advent is the season of waiting; we wait in anticipation of the coming of Christ. But are we the only ones doing the waiting?

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Illuminated only by candles, the Blessed Sacrament sits on the altar of repose in the crypt of St Mary’s Cathedral after the Mass of the Last Supper.

By Francine Pirola

I (Francine) was hurrying to get out the door for 7am Mass. I looked at the time on the car clock and sighed in defeat: 6:58. There was no way I’d make it in time.

Just then I noticed the song playing on the radio: Mumford and Sons, “I will wait”. It was like a personal message from Jesus. “I’m coming Jesus!” I announced and pressed my foot to the floor.

I sailed through the intersections without pause and raced up the hill. The final chorus was playing like it was stuck on repeat – “I will wait, I will wait for you”.

Pulling into the monastery carpark, the song gave way to the beeps heralding the 7am news bulletin. A quick dash and I was in my pew savouring the private favour of God warping time for me.

He waits for us

If there is one thing that strikes us when we enter a Catholic church, it is the patient waiting of Jesus. He literally waits in the tabernacle for us.

He waits for years sometimes. He waits even if we never show up. Like a love-struck suitor, he makes his proposal, and waits for our response… hopeful but never demanding.

The Season of Advent, which runs for four Sundays ahead of Christmas day, is a reminder not just of our spiritual longing, but of God’s yearning for us. From the beginning of time, God anticipated the moment of his entry into human experience to become one of us and one with us.

Woman praying in the church

Waiting sanctifies us

There’s lots of waiting in marriage and family life: we wait for love and marriage to find us; we wait for a baby to arrive; we wait for the holidays to begin then long for school to return; we wait for a spouse to get home or to ‘get over’ some challenge… (still waiting!).

There can be great suffering in our waiting. When longed for dreams don’t eventuate, conception never happens, or our spouse fails to change as desired, heartache is prolonged.

We glued-to-our-smartphone moderns are not so good at waiting. We see it as an affront to our dignity, a challenge to our self-proclaimed importance. But a certain measure of waiting is unavoidable and even desirable.

Waiting teaches us humility and patience – essential virtues for healthy relationships. It opens a space for reflecting, allowing us to stop ‘doing’ and to simply be aware… of ourselves, our world, the person before us, our God.

In marriage and family life the willingness to wait (and without resentment!) is a generous act of love. It invites us to adopt a divine lens to see past our frustration and encounter the other as a subject of God’s eternal yearning.

A couple works on a communication exercise at a marriage preparation class. Photo: CNS, Karen Callaway, Katolik

Holy Pauses

This Advent, join us and start a new holiness habit. Instead of resenting the wait periods in your day, consciously enter into them. Resist the temptation to reach for the phone, but rather pay attention to the details of the moment.

Tune in to your senses to notice the sounds and smells, the textures and colours, the precious gifts of that moment. Breathe deeply. and see, really see, the one you wait for as God sees them in all their goodness.

God patiently waits for us. We too can find God there in these waiting spaces, and when we do, say “hello” and thank Him for waiting for us.

Francine & Byron Pirola are the founders of SmartLoving. For more visit www.smartloving.org