Isn’t it so hard to wait? We are forever impatient with waiting, be at a traffic light, in a queue or at a supermarket checkout.

How much more difficult to wait when we are looking forward to something! How many times have we heard from the lips of a child that he or she is six-and-a -half or better again, “nearly seven”. It doesn’t end with childhood, we continually look forward – the expectant mother speaks of her “due date”, the County Team of the “All-Ireland Senior Final” and so it goes. Yes it’s hard to wait.

Little children sometimes talk of waiting in terms of “sleeps” – as we begin Advent we could wonder “How many sleeps ‘til Christmas?” It’s as if it’s easier to wait and cope with waiting when we are asleep! Yet the Gospel clearly calls us to be awake, more than that to “stay awake” so maybe that’s the way to meet Advent. Yes, allow for sleep, for rest and reflection but use the waking hours too, to prepare and observe, to transform and be transformed.

What can we notice today? Who can we notice today? What can we notice about ourselves and our attitudes? What can we see in others that might need – demand – a bit of our time? It could be a tear in someone’s eye or a quietness that seems to want to find a voice and needs an open ear. Maybe it’s a church that we rush past and half bless ourselves that is saying “look, my door is open and you have a bit of time, come in and stay awhile”.

Certainly it’s not about how many shopping days are left until Christmas or “When a Child is Born” playing through the shopping centre’s sound system in October. Neither is it about eBay, Amazon, On-Line Orders, endless shopping, wondering about the size of the turkey or booking a skiing holiday. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these but the timing isn’t right.

We are beginning a journey today that has to be taken, one spiritual step after another, day by day, sleep by sleep, waking after waking until the destination is reached.

Take your time with it. Give your time to it. Prepare! Journey with Advent.

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