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advent means waiting

Current JV Claire Smith (Gresham, OR ’12-13) shared a reflection with the Portland JVC Northwest community Tuesday evening at our annual Advent Gathering. The following paragraphs are an excerpt, for the rest of the reflection, click here to download: Advent means waiting-Claire Smith Reflection
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JV Claire Smith (Gresham, OR ’12-13) shares her reflection at the Advent Gathering

As a child, I must confess, Advent frustrated me. I remember hearing the song “Oh come, oh come Emmanuel” far too many times – just get here, already! I wanted to get to the good songs like “Joy to the World” and “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”   I loved lighting the blue candles on our wreath, but I was impatient to light the tall, red one in the middle. Also, my parents are sticklers with our manger scene, not putting the baby Jesus in until Christmas Eve and keeping the three Wise Men out until Epiphany . . .  and it was hard for me to play pretend with the figurines while the main character was missing. My childhood impatience made the waiting of Advent difficult; the looking forward to Christmas was great, but it was hard to be content.

Since then, my attention span has grown; my ability to appreciate anticipation has increased. I understand why waiting is important; how the build-up of the wait can be as sweet as the arrival – as when a loved-one visits; how waiting can be a ritual that brings preparation – like taking a moment of reflection before beginning a spirituality night; how it is an unavoidable part of life – waiting in line, waiting to speak your turn, waiting until the tomatoes are ripe…

But I wonder if I am actually any better at Advent now?

Waiting, to me, can still be frustrating. I just want this community to be strong, already! I want to hurry up and end oppression. I’m tired of waiting for sustainability to be the norm instead of a notable exception. Waiting makes me recognize the limitations of my control. And it is often more difficult than taking action…

As I am coming to understand Advent this year, it is about slowing down enough to wait and see the presence of God with us. It is not a stagnant, passive waiting; not an excuse for apathy or inaction. It is an active waiting. An expectation. In Spanish, the word for “to wait” means simultaneously “wait,” “hope,” and “expect” – esperar. Three meanings layered into one whispering verb. It is an active stillness. It is perhaps paying attention as the internal pot boils over. To see what happens and to make an empty space – an inner capacity for peace – that can be filled with less turbulent waters of God’s presence.

1 thought on “advent means waiting”

  1. thank you for sharing… i love the idea of slowing down enough to see feel God with us…

    I recently experienced the power of “pausing” and the beauty of creating “space” to let God’s presence into my heart…

    God Bless you during this advent season… and may peace fill your heart.

    christine hamill weeden
    FJV 96-97
    Tekawitha House, Yakima, WA

    Reply

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Zayna Abusada (Ashland, MT ’17-18, Anchorage, AK ’18-19) was most recently a JV in south-central Alaska serving with immigrant and refugee English-Language learners as the Academy for Citizenship and Civics Support Specialist with the Alaska Literacy Program (ALP) in Anchorage. Zayna first served with Indigenous students on the Northern Cheyenne and Crow Reservations. Originally from Iowa City, Iowa, Zayna went on to earn her undergraduate degree in History and Theological Studies with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies at Saint Louis University.

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