12.06.2009

Watch for light, 2



Second Sunday of Advent

Malachi 3:1-4
Luke 1:68-79
Philippians 1:3-11
Luke 3:1-6

Monday afternoon, Nov 30, the first day actively "watching for light."

The line is long. My kid's rope is not, or at least, we've already found its end. Apparently Mondays are a popular day to go to the bank because the line is snaking through the lobby and out the door. I struggle with the push-chair up some stairs and through a door before joining the narrow line, praying that the books I've brought will successfully entertain Finn. I consider coming back another day, but Hong Kong is primarily a cash society, and we really need the money. So, I wait.

The line moves slowly. People shuffle along, mostly quiet, except for the occasional cell phone and the not-so-occasional outburst from Finn. I am impatient, wanting to get to the park, willing my son not to kick the legs in front of him.

It's getting close to our turn. And then some woman comes from nowhere and goes straight to a counter. I don't know what she says, but she succeeds in getting several of the tellers to attend to her problem, and I go from impatient to fuming. Who is she, to just cut in line like that? Why is she so important? The line isn't moving at all now, and it's not quiet anymore. Lots of us are sighing, murmuring, unhappy.

I see a beautiful slice of light coming in the window, and for a moment I think about how lovely it would be at the park, what perfect photography light. And then--oh yeah. I'm supposed to be watching for light. It's funny how often it takes literal light to remind me to watch for God's activity. Funny and wonderful.

So where's the light in having to wait in line for an hour at the bank? Well, nowhere, unless I remember that Advent is really all about waiting. We devise elaborate devotionals and light candles and talk about waiting for God, but nothing can make me feel less spiritual than a line. It's lovely and mysterious to sing O Come O Come Emmanuel, but waiting in a traffic jam is a different story.

I recently heard Adele Diamond speak about neural development. Just as we really learn to drive by driving, or to cook by cooking, we learn skills like reflection and empathy by doing them. We have to practice morality and ethics, and it makes sense to me that every line, every time I'm put on hold, every traffic jam is a chance to practice waiting, a chance to reorder and remember that the world does not revolve around my needs--in short, a chance to experience Advent.

By the tender mercy of our God, 
the dawn from on high 
will break upon us, 
to give light to those who sit in 
darkness and in the 
shadow of death, 
to guide our feet into the way 
of peace. 

Luke 1:78-79 


2 comments:

Jill said...

I wish I had told you when I first read this in December how much I enjoyed it. It really hit home for me. You are a wonderful inspiring writer! Thank you.

Monte said...

Thanks, Jill. It's good to get a little reminder of this today, a rainy day, when light seems so scarce.