"As I waited for the birth of my baby, I discovered that waiting can be a nurturing time, valuable in its own right. Until then, I had assumed that waiting could only be passive, that it involved sitting around, drumming my fingers, completely powerless to do anything until the moment of waiting passed and I could be active again. How wrong I was. The waiting of pregnancy is about as active an occupation as one can hope to engage in. Pregnant waiting is a profoundly creative act, involving a slow growth to new life. This kind of waiting may appear passive externally but internally consists of never-ending action and is a helpful analogy for the kind of waiting that Advent requires. For many of us, Advent is such a busy time with all our preparations for Christmas that the thought of stopping and sitting passively while attractive in many ways is simply impossible. Advent, however, does not demand passivity but the utmost activity: active internal waiting that knits together new life.
"One of the other things I learned during pregnancy was that learning to savor the time of waiting allows us also to appreciate the event when it comes. The loss of an ability to wait often brings with it the inability to be fully and joyfully present now. Instead, we are constantly looking backward to better times we used to know and forward to better times that may be coming. The more we do this, the more we miss the present. Not only that, but it becomes hard to appreciate the future moment even when it does come. Many people speak of the feeling of deep anticlimax on Christmas Day when that long-anticipated day does not live up to expectations. Often the reason for this is that we live forever in the future, so that, when the future becomes the present, we are ill equipped to deal with it and have lost the ability to be fully present, right now.
"One of the many reasons we wait in Advent is to hone our skills of being joyfully and fully present now. After a month of doing this, Christmas Day can gain a depth and meaning that would otherwise fly past in a whirl of presents and mince pies."