I am sure that many Christians have no trouble associating the notion of waiting with Advent. The readings of the four Sundays of Advent speak to this idea without equivocation. When one adds the concept of watching while we wait for the coming of Jesus, Advent is surely well described.
Perhaps due to my own impatience I have been considering just how much of Lent is also about waiting. But this Lenten waiting seems much more active to me than Advent. It is a waiting which invites one to choose to do that which will bring real change within. Whether or not one chooses the traditional Anglican practices of self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving we hope that our choices which began on Ash Wednesday will find fruition on Easter morning.
This impact of active Lenten waiting is barely recognizable at first because of its cumulative nature. Changes within us occur little by little each day, much like the changes which come as the snow melts at this time of year – though not as quickly as of late here in Deep River. The changes we strive towards by God’s grace shift us slowly from where we have prayerfully considered ourselves to be to where we wish to be with God. Our daily Lenten task is to attempt to add to each previous day’s active waiting in the anticipation that we will have been drawn nearer to the love of God.
There is an irony which I also discover in that as I move nearer to Easter I realize more fully that God’s love lies already ready within me; dormant, as one might say. And as with the warming of the sun on the land which lies dormant and frozen at this time of year the radiance of God’s love, stirred I believe by Lenten practices, becomes exposed by increments. I gradually become aware once again that what has covered my heart and perhaps frozen God out of certain aspects of my life, now through my active Lenten waiting begins to resurface.
What will be left after the detritus of my accumulated neglect has melted away in my heart will be a heart ready in earnest for what God can bring to be within it. The Lenten disciplines which I have adopted do their job by incrementally revealing and reminding me of that which I think I already knew; where my life comes from and to whom I owe everything – the One who has created me, and our entire universe, out of love. I try to be gentle with myself by not to being too disappointed in my great need to do this each year. Rather, I have adopted the Lenten discipline of rejoicing in the ancient wisdom of the saints who have already walked this path and have left it for me and future generations, I hope, to walk as well. I now take great comfort in their Lenten gift handed so graciously over to each one of us, if we are willing to accept it.
And thankfully, even if not all at once, change does come. Just as with the miracle of the Resurrection something, which at first seemed quite impossible, does happen; a once covered and frozen heart will be warmed and stirred back to new life by God’s boundless love for that heart.
Such is the small wonder which is revealed in us we hope day by day on our Lenten pilgrimage. Such is the great wonder which God desires to be fully ours and is fully revealed to us on Easter morn.
Such is glorious waiting…